Converge game plan aimed at getting June Mar out of the way, says Arana
IT was one of the rare nights when Justin Arana was able to hold his own against six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
The rookie center stood his ground against the 6-foot-10 Fajardo and helped Converge survive previously unbeaten San Miguel, 107-103, in Saturday night’s main game of the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Arana finished with nine points and eight rebounds, and got a huge break down the stretch when Fajardo was called for his sixth and final foul with 2:57 left to play and the FiberXers holding on to a slim 96-94 lead.
READ: Converge deals SMB its first loss under Gallent
Basically, the Converge plan was to get the league’s best big man out of the game, according to Arana.
“Yun ang pinaka-unang instruction ni coach. Kailangan alisin sa game si Kuya June Mar, kasi once nasa loob siya, delikado kami,” said the No. 4 overall pick in the last rookie draft.
“So kailangan mag-double effort especially sa part ko. Pero laking pasalamat ko dahil tinulungan ako na ma-limitihan si Kuya June Mar.”
Fajardo was held to just seven points and 10 rebounds, and shot just 1-of-6 from the foul line. His disqualification on fouls was likewise the first in the last four years, or since the 2019 Philippine Cup semis between San Miguel and Phoenix.
Still, Arana said it was a difficult task taking on the immovable Fajardo at the post.
“Sobrang hirap,” said the Converge freshman. “Kailangan talaga namin siyang i-double, kasi kapag ako lang hindi ko talaga siya kaya. Kaya kailangan namin talagang mag-work as a team para malimitahan namin siya.”