San Miguel's June Mar Fajardo progressing well from shin injury

There have been little problems with June Mar Fajardo's right shin ever since the six-time PBA Most Valuable Player started practicing again with San Miguel in Batangas City.

Fajardo on Friday shared that aside from some soreness in the first few days of the team's return to scrimmages late last month, everything has actually been smooth-sailing health-wise.

"It's been OK so far. I'm doing well with my conditioning, and me and our physical therapist are working hard to get to where I want to be. So far, my injury doesn't hurt, which is good," he said in Filipino on the 2OT podcast.

"It just became really sore quickly at first. My shin would get really tight sometimes. The soreness went away quickly after we released the pressure. That's what usually happened in the first two days. But lately, it doesn't get that sore anymore," Fajardo added.

The Cebuano big man missed the entirety of SMB's 2020 Philippine Cup campaign after fracturing his shin in practice early in the year.

But Fajardo has made great strides ever since, even after a couple of initial setbacks in the rehabilitation process. In fact, the 31-year-old center has been present for the Beermen ever since the team began its closed-circuit training down south last May.

There was understandably a lot of glee on Fajardo's part when he finally re-joined his teammates after more than a year of being away from the squad.

"It was a lot of fun," he described. "I felt very happy when I finally got back to team practices and saw my teammates after one year away of not seeing them and not practicing with them. It was a different feeling, and I cherish these moments with my teammates even more."

Still, there are some personal hurdles he'll have to overcome.

As much as he's ready to go physically, Fajardo said the mental aspect of his recovery is something he needs to continue working on moving forward.

"To be honest, I still actually feel hesitant sometimes. I'd think twice and hesitate when I would do certain moves in practice. But I want to keep testing my shin and see how much it can take," Fajardo admitted.

"Right now we're doing plyometric exercises where I have to jump. Nothing really hurts when we do that. We're also working on footwork exercises with our PT and I'm moving well. We have one more month to prepare, so I hope the progress continues."

Surely, San Miguel will be careful with its franchise pillar once the 2021 season begins sometime in June or July. Head coach Leo Austria bared last month that a minutes restriction could be in place for Fajardo early on, although the big man himself said that hasn't been discussed internally just yet.

Fajardo's been vocal about winning, though, and he placed a lot of emphasis on being available just to anchor the paint once more for the Beermen.

"I want to be able to help the team again, and I'm doing my best to improve my conditioning and get back into game shape just so I can play with them inside the court again," he remarked.

But Fajardo understands that him being on the court doesn't immediately guarantee anything for San Miguel, which is now looking to get back on track after seeing its five-season reign as All-Filipino champions come to a screeching halt last year.

"Injuries were a huge reason for our early exit last year. But right now, we're complete, and we're in a good flow. We just have to stay healthy and follow the game plan. The game plan worked for us in the past few years, so we just have to follow that again so we can go further," said Fajardo.

"We'll work hard. A title is the goal, of course. That's every team's goal. For our part, we'll try our best when the games come and see how the results will go."