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Justin Arana makes sure to get JMF out of game: ‘Once nasa loob siya delikado kami’

Justin Arana would be the first to admit that guarding June Mar Fajardo entails a ton of responsibility to pull off as Converge and San Miguel duked it out in a pulsating PBA Governors’ Cup encounter, Saturday night.

“Sobra! Sobra po, sobrang hirap po kaya kailangan namin siyang i-double,” offered the rookie big man. “Kasi ‘pag ako lang ‘di ko talaga siya kaya.

“So, kailangan talaga namin mag-work as a team talaga. Kailangan namin siya i-double para at least malimitahan siya,” he furthered.

But there should be no denying that the 23-year-old stood his ground against the league’s only six-time Most Valuable Player, helping accomplish their goal of throwing him off helped his squad a great deal.

Constantly attacked by Coach Aldin Ayo’s wards, Fajardo eventually fouled out of the match still with 2:57 left to play, and that was, indeed, an opening that the FiberXers took advantage of en route to the 107-103 stunner.

Fouling out for the first time since the 2019, the Cebuano star left the game with just seven points, and that, said Arana, was part of the grand plan.

2023-PBA-Governors-Cup-San-Miguel-vs-Converge-June-Mar-Fajardo Justin Arana makes sure to get JMF out of game: 'Once nasa loob siya delikado kami' Basketball News PBA  - philippine sports news

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“Yes. Kasi ‘yun ang pinakaunang gameplan ni Coach e,” the fourth overall pick said moments after the match at the Mall of Asia Arena. “Kailangan alisin sa game si Kuya June Mar kasi once si Kuya June Mar nasa loob delikado kami.

“Kaya kailangan namin mag-double effort, especially sa akin. Sinabihan talaga ako ng mga coaches ko na kailangan mag-double effort ako para at least malimit si Kuya June Mar,” he added.

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And he did a remarkable job. Aside from defending, there was even a time that he outrebounded the 6-foot-10 slotman for an offensive rebound, leaving some from the stands in awe as he maximized his agility to get that.

Not only did he do his assignment on Fajardo but Arana contributed hugely in the endgame, making things happen on both ends of the floor.

He smothered CJ Perez’ lay-up attempt off a drive, then nailed both of his free throws to give Converge a 106-101 lead with 37.6 seconds left.

Arana went on to finish with nine points, eight rebounds, one steal, and three blocks in the 28 minutes and 59 seconds he saw action.

All that, he said, was simply a product of him making up for his early game struggles with hustle to help the FiberXers, who improved to 5-1.

“Gusto ko lang matulungan ‘yung team, ‘yun lang. Off night yung opensa ko, kailangan mag-doble effort man lang para at least makabawi sa mga coaches kasi sobrang dami kong turnover kanina at mga mintis ko,” he said.

“So siguro ‘yung mindset ko lang talaga is kailangan ko maka-rebound, kailangan kong maka-stop kasi yun na lang inaasahan sa akin.

“At siguro nadala na rin ng frustration sa first half kaya kailangan ko talaga makabawi,” added the 6-foot-7 center out of Arellano. “So ‘yun nalang iniisip kasi nasa baba na ako this game at kailangan kong bumawi.”

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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