As the chaos that started in front of the Gilas Pilipinas bench spilled over to the sidelines, one towering figure was a picture of calm of restraint.
June Mar Fajardo simply refused to “release The Kraken” and let self-restraint take over while majority of the players from both sides exchanged punches and kicks in the melee that broke out during the third period of the FIBA World Cup qualifying match between the Philippines and Australia on July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Thirteen players were thrown out of the game – four from the Boomers and nine from Pinoys’ side after a lengthy deliberation by the game officials. That left Fajardo as one of the only three players left for Gilas, along with captain Gabe Norwood and Baser Amer, as play resumed.
As he and Norwood exhausted all their fouls and Amer the last man standing for the Philippines, Australia sealed the win and the top spot in Group B at the close of the first round of qualifiers.
Although he totally gets why his teammates acted the way they did against the Boomers, the reigning four-time MVP figured it best to not join in on the fray.
“Kapag sumali ako doon, talagang pagsisisihan ko ‘yung gagawin ko,” said Fajardo after helping lead San Miguel Beer to a 115-106 win against Blackwater as PBA action resumed at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday night.
“Mabuti kung umiwas na lang kasi mahirap na. Kung tutuusin, kung gusto ko makipag-away puwede, eh. Nandoon na ako sa gitna kaso ayoko ng ganoon,” he added.
The national team veteran also shared the biggest reason why he stayed away from the fracas – his mother, Marites, was seated at courtside. Seeing the worried look on her face was all he needed to keep his cool, a decision that earned him praise from all over.
“Isa pa nandoon ang mama ko. Tumingin nga ako sa kanya, namutla mama ko. Laging nire-remind ng parents ko, kung pwede ka umiwas sa gulo, umiwas ka. Hindi lahat ng bagay idadaan mo sa init ng ulo. Kung puwede ka mag-walkout sa away, mag-walkout ka. Kasi ‘yung init ng sitwasyon, mas lalala,” the 28-year-old pride of Cebu expressed.
“Siyempre nakakainis ‘pag ‘di mo maiwasan ‘yung physicality pero siyempre, nasa iyo rin ‘yun.Gusto ko lang mag-focus sa game, gusto kong mag-improve. Hindi ako mag-i-improve kung papatol ako sa ganu’n,”