It is just over a week from now before the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) starts its 2020 season, a bit later than usual due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. The Philippine Cup, the first seasonal conference title to be contested, will have the teams compete for domination without any of the ace imports they would have in roster for the other two conferences. It is supposed to be a time for pure Pinoy power to carry the day, but for the San Miguel Beermen, they are looking at a tough run at the conference without their big man around.

As ABS-CBN News tells it, San Miguel Beer will have problems achieving their six-time Philippine Cup championship streak going this 2020 following the court-related injury of their center, June Mar Fajardo. Fajardo had broken his right tibia during team practice back in February 3, and while his surgery was successful, his convalescence will pretty much bench him for all of the Philippine Cup this year. Beermen team governor Robert Non was blunt in his assessment of SMB during a PBA press conference at the Conrad Hotel Tuesday, February 25. “Actually, it’ll be hard for SMB,” he says. “This is the first time we’re feeling like underdogs because of June Mar.”

Without Fajardo, Non thinks the chances of a six-peat Philippine Cup championship for the Beermen are slim at average. In fact, he is concerned that for a thorough recovery from his injury, June Mar will have to sit out the Commissioner’s and Governor’s Cups as well, effectively putting him out of action for a whole season. He can only hope that the roster adjustments being done with SMB will at least give them some semblance of a fighting chance during the conference. Their best bet to pinch-hit on Fajardo’s spot is the half-Tongan Mo Tautuua.

In other news at that same PBA press con, the league announced that even though physical attendance to PBA games has seen a decrease of 4% last season, it is not yet any cause for alarm. In their research, the league determined that fans have simply turned to watching PBA games on TV as well as digital streaming platforms, with a 20 to 25% increase in related social media activity according to Commissioner Willie Marcial. Chairman Ricky Vargas concurs, saying that “The PBA is healthy.”

Image courtesy of Philippine Star