This has been the dilemma of San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria as the Beermen try to avoid a 0-3 hole in the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday in Lucena.
Austria did mention during his post-Game 2 talk that it would sure be a risk playing a less-than-100-percent Fajardo in the Finals.
Part of the risk is aggravating his left knee injury, considering that the all-Filipino conference Finals is physical.
A freak accident could be fatal for the 6-foot-10 San Miguel slotman, who has been unstoppable all season long before sustaining the knee injury last week against Rain or Shine in the semis.
The soft-spoken San Miguel big man expressed his desire to help the Beermen’s cause in the Finals, which is understandable, especially since he prepared hard during the offseason to reach the “big stage”.
However, coach Leo Austria made a good point on Tuesday night when he said playing Fajardo in the Finals is like “risking the future of Philippine basketball.”
“I don’t want to take any risk because the future of Philippine basketball is with June Mar, especially in the international competition and in the future of San Miguel Beer, it’s a big factor that he should be healthy,” he said.
With the Philippines also set to host the Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament this July, playing without Fajardo due to an injury could deal a serious blow for Gilas.
Alaska is two wins away from a 15th league championship, while San Miguel has a lot of catching up to do at this point.
Will playing June Mar be worth the gamble?