THERE are many uncertainties regarding the current PBA season due to the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
But San Miguel Beer is sure of one thing – that injured prized center June Mar Fajardo will not be rushed back into service even if the PBA’s indefinite suspension of its games and activities drags on.
“Tingin namin, two months, three months not enough for him to fully recover,” Beermen coach Leo Austria said of Fajardo, who suffered a complete fracture on his right shin bone in practice early last month.
Initial estimates put the six-time season MVP’s recovery period at six months before he can start therapy sessions and at least another three months of conditioning before he can get back into game-shape.
That is the same timeline being currently given before the spread of COVID-19 subsides and, hopefully, a cure found.
While Austria is wishing a speedy recovery for Fajardo, he said his squad has adopted the attitude of playing the rest of the season without its biggest star player.
“Ina-assume namin wala na siya for this season,” Austria said. “Ang pinaghahandaan namin ‘yung kanyang full recovery. Ang mindset ng mga players di na siya makakabalik for this season.”
Of immediate importance for Austria is the containment of the COVID-19 outbreak, which has so far claimed 12 fatalities out of the 140 confirmed cases in the country as of Sunday.
While the number of confirmed cases was just around 35, the PBA ordered all its games and activities to be put on hold “until further notice” last Wednesday.
Two days later, the PBA also issued a memo to all 12 teams to stop conducting practices until March 27.
Austria has jumped the gun on the PBA by ordering his team to cut short its practice session as early as last Thursday.
“I can see sa mga players takot na silang humawak ng kung ano-ano sa gym, parang naging paranoid na,” explained Austria.
“Kaya sabi ko, since kung magkakaroon kami ng game sa March 25 pa (against Columbian) kaya kinansel ko na praktis. Tapos dumating na ang memo from the PBA the following day.”
The Beermen opened up their Philippine Cup title by drubbing Magnolia 94-78 on opening day last March 8 but Austria is not too concerned about having lost any momentum.
“Disappointed sa cancellation ng games pero talagang kailangan kasi priority natin health ng mga tao, hindi ‘yung momentum o anuman,” said Austria.
“Iniisip namin hindi lang miyembro ng team dahil it could affect the other families, the fans.”
Besides, there is another injured Beerman who could benefit from the wait in Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, who missed the Hotshots game due to a minor leg injury he suffered also last month.