Back to school: Freshman Fajardo learns hard lessons in Petron loss to Rain or ShinePetron Blaze top overall pick June Mar Fajardo came home with nine points, 12 rebounds, and a cut on his forehead after the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters handed the Boosters a 102-86 beatdown on Wednesday night.
Despite showing a raw game, Fajardo started the game and provided a tough presence on the low block against the shorter Rain or Shine frontline, which battled using its trademark physicality.
Blazers coach Olsen Racela gave his rookie a grade of seven out of 10.
“He has to work on a lot of things, particularly in playing tougher in the PBA,” said Racela. “Sinasabi niya sa akin, nauunahan daw siyang hawakan ng kalaban, pero yun nga ang dapat, kailangan he has to show toughness. Unahan niya na agad yung mga kalaban niya.”
Petron team consultant Rajko Toroman said Fajardo’s lack of seasoning is showing.
“He never had real basketball. His only real basketball came six months ago and he didn’t have much exposure,” said the Serbian coach. Fajardo played for the San Miguel Beermen in the ABL after suiting up for University of Cebu in college.
Toroman, the former coach of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team, believes Fajardo will take about two years before becoming a dominant force.
“There are a lot of tough players. He needs to toughen up and work on his game better. But first game isn’t a gauge. It takes time before the guys, including Fajardo, to get used to the system.”
Fajardo said he was surprised about the physicality of the game of Rain or Shine, as the frontliners caught him flat footed and out of position a lot of times.