The return of June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo from their respective injuries — plus the addition of rising star CJ Perez — will make things easier for San Miguel Beer in its push back to the top in the next PBA season.
Mo Tautuaa believes as much, optimistic of his team’s chances in the 46th season. After all, they are gunning for redemption following a disappointing run in the Philippine Cup bubble last year, which saw the end of their five-year reign.
“We have June Mar coming back and CJ stepping in. I mean, that’s just more people to help make the game easier,” the 6-foot-8 bruiser told Radyo5’s Power and Play, hosted by former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala.
Fajardo, the reigning six-time Most Valuable Player, is expected to come back after missing the bubble campaign no thanks to a shin injury. He sustained it during a team practice back in February of last year.
Tautuaa didn’t mention Romeo, but the former three-time scoring king is also likely to return. He dislocated his shoulder during the Beermen’s second game in Clark versus his former team TNT.
The injury bug didn’t leave the Beermen camp after what happened to the 29-year-old. Core players Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, and Alex Cabagnot also suffered injuries in the lone conference played last season.
Tautuaa, though, was among those trying to carry the fight for his battered crew. He led them to a top-four finish at the end of eliminations (7-4) with norms of 18.9 points on 61-percent shooting from the field and 7.5 rebounds.
But San Miguel could only do so much. Meralco beat them twice in the quarterfinals to take down the half-a-decade dynasty.
“In the bubble, when we were there, it felt weird because everyone kept getting hurt.
“It felt like every day, it was someone new. So when we were in there, we just told ourselves to just keep playing,” Tautuaa recalled.
Along with the return of their two stars comes the arrival of Perez, who landed with San Miguel via trade with Terrafirma just last January.
All these have Tautuaa excited for the new season. He also vows to play with the same attitude he had in Clark to help the Beermen reclaim glory.
“Imma keep that same attitude coming into this next season. We do have a lot of good players around us so we’re just trusting the coaches … and making sure I play as hard as I can when I get these opportunities.”