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Austria hopes for better start, bench support to give Fajardo rest



While San Miguel head coach Leo Austria wants to give his go-to guy June Mar Fajardo as much rest as he possibly can, Fajardo will have to wait a little longer before he can enjoy more time on the bench.

It will be far from ideal for San Miguel to rest Fajardo if they were to end up finishing a game having shot only 29 percent from three-point area and having 16 less bench points than their opponents.

Austria has admitted he is already worried about overplaying Fajardo, but also said “the situation needs him”, sticking to his giant on the floor for most of the match.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Austria hopes for better start, bench support to give Fajardo rest

Photo from PBA Images

“Players from the bench, I am trying to give them playing time pero every time they are inside, nawawala yung rhythm namin, bumabagsak kami so I am always obliged to put June Mar inside,” Austria said.

“There was a time sabi ko kay June Mar pahinga ka muna pero sabi niya, ‘No, kaya ko’. He wants to win, you can see it, but he cannot win games by himself. He needs support.”

Rain or Shine had a pristine start once again in Game 2, leading by as much 25 before San Miguel did their best to mount a comeback. The Beermen fell short, losing Game 2, 105-97, as the series was knotted at 1-1.

Fajardo did all he could, scoring 38 points and hauling down 17 rebounds in close to 40 minutes of play. However, Fajardo missed 10 of his 22 free throw attempts, as fatigue factored in.

The big man was disappointed about how his shooting from the charity stripe had turned sour. Fajardo said he had still been felt the same rhythm release after release, but the shots just wouldn’t find the back of the net.

But Fajardo refused the blame the bad performance on fatigue and physicality, even adding the team should bounce back.Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Austria hopes for better start, bench support to give Fajardo rest

“Siguro, pero mintis e. Kala ko masho-shoot. Diretso naman, short lang. Feel ko mapapasok eh, nasho-short lang. Talo eh, win as a team, lose as a team,” he said.

“Dami kong mintis eh. Wala tayong magagawa, ganun talaga eh, mintis na. Di ko alam. Puro short eh. Napapagod din ako kasi ang hirap ng kalaban pero hindi reason yun eh. Magaling talaga ang Rain or Shine. Kailangan talaga mag-bounce back.”

Ultimately, Austria said San Miguel cannot afford start flat in the next game. The Beermen had to claw back from 20 points down in Game 1 to win. In Game 2, the Beermen were already down 16 after the first quarter.

“I told the players we should have a good start especially sa third quarter. First play namin, tinawagan agad kami eh. And then, I think ang turning point nagkaroon sila ng 8-0 right away, so from 15 points down naging 23,” Austria shared. “I think if we have a good start in the third quarter, we will have a good game and have a chance to beat them.”

When San Miguel starts getting more support from their bench and play better as a team, Fajardo may be able to get the rest he very much deserves. But that is if the Beermen start to play that way. Until then, it will have to wait.

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