Beermen fight for survival without injured Fajardo in EASL


SAN Miguel fights for dear life in the East Asia Super League (EASL) Champions Week without its best big man.

Six-time Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) MVP June Mar Fajardo has been ruled out by the team for its all-important game against Rhenz Abando and Anyang KGC on Saturday after hurting his left knee in the Beermen’s tournament debut Thursday night.

The 6-foot-11 Fajardo went down with the injury after colliding with Ryukyu big man Jack Cooley just 21 seconds into the game which the Beermen lost, 96-68, at Nikkan Arena.

The San Miguel big man never returned as coach Jorge Gallent opted to rest him and preserved Fajardo instead for the team’s campaign in the PBA Governors Cup.

“No more, he’s done,” said Gallent of Fajardo’s situation. “Somebody hit him in the knee. PTs will take care of him and I hope it’s nothing serious.”

Now the Beermen take care of business against Anyang KGC without Fajardo, hoping to give the Korean Baskletball League (KBL) runner-up team a much better fight in their final game in the group stage and get a shot of entering the championship round.

Both San Miguel and Anyang travel to Okinawa for the 3 p.m. match at the newly-built Okinawa Stadium.

Also in the same bind as the Beermen are the TNT Tropang Giga, who battled KBL champion Seoul SK Knights late Friday as they bid to stay alive in the $500,000 week-long tournament.

The Tropang Giga lost badly to home team Utsunomiya Brex in the opener, 99-66, while the Knights battled back from 18 points down to stun the Bay Area Dragons, 92-84.

Anyang KGC and Ryukyu Golden Kings currently lead Group A with 1-0 records, while San Miguel and Taipei Fubon Braves are at the bottom with 0-1 slates.

Anyang earlier beat the Braves, 94-69, as Abando finished with 11 points, four rebounds, and two steals.

Japan B League champion Utsunomiya Brex and Seoul SK Knights are both 1-0 in Group B followed by TNT and Bay Area Dragons at 0-1.

The top team in each group will dispute the championship and the $250,000 prize money on Sunday, while the second best team in each group plays for third place.

Runner up will get $100,000 and third place $50,000.

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