San Miguel Beer star June Mar Fajardo is doing well in his recovery from a leg injury even with a rehabilitation program interrupted by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“I’m OK,” the reigning six-straight most valuable player (MVP) awardee told the Inquirer in Filipino late Wednesday evening. “Rehab was stopped because there’s no facility open, but my doctor gave me exercises to help my recovery.”
Fajardo’s current program includes strengthening his glutes, back and legs and regaining flexibility to counter the stiffness of his body brought about by inactivity. He works with resistance bands at the moment, avoiding any heavy lifting.
No leg pressure
“I’m not doing weights yet,” Fajardo said. “I’m just lying on a mat, doing knee-to-chest stretches.”
“I can’t be aggressive with weight-bearing yet; in fact, even if I’m already allowed to walk without crutches, I try to use crutches as much as possible to help with my healing and not put premature pressure on my leg.”
“But I also try walking without crutches so I can start getting used to it.”
Fajardo broke his leg during practice early this year and was expected to miss most of the season, depriving him of a chance to help San Miguel Beer defend its Philippine Cup crown and stretch his MVP run to seven years.
The PBA’s current season, however, is still on hold due to the pandemic, with the worst-case scenario being the cancellation of the season altogether.
Fajardo is focusing on his immediate recovery and has also taken care of his nutrition, especially since he can’t go full blast with workouts.
“I’m staying away from rice as much as possible because I’m inactive a lot of times,” Fajardo said, adding he has shed off some weight during the quarantine period.
He joked: “I eat a lot of cereal because it’s the easiest thing to prepare.”
San Miguel coach Leo Austria is impressed at the rate of Fajardo’s recovery—and the way his other Beermen have managed to keep themselves in decent shape despite the lockdown that has dragged on for months now.
“They are just very determined to return to playing,” Austria said in a recent interview. “You can see that they are putting their health first and foremost.”
The league had said that it will decide on whether to resume the season by August, although its leaders have set a meeting for next week.
Only one game was played, with San Miguel thumping sister team and last year’s Philippine Cup runner-up, Purefoods, on opening day, before the league suspended play starting March 11.
Fajardo may get his chance to work out in a proper facility soon, however, as the league prepares to draft protocols that will govern a return to training and, possibly, allow the resumption of its suspended season.
“What we’re looking at [first] is that players can get conditioning exercises,” PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said. “We’re not in a rush. Health and safety are still paramount.”
Marcial is set to present his own concept of a “basketball bubble” to the board, with chair Ricky Vargas and other members expected to be present physically during the meeting.
“We’re meeting in our video-review room, which is about 2.5 times bigger than our regular conference [room], so we can strictly observe physical distancing,” he said.
The league is pushing to resume its 45th season even with no vaccine for the virus available based on a plan centered on rapid and rigorous testing, among others.
SMC tests teams
Marcial said several PBA teams have already tested their players and the PBA could initiate its own testing program to ensure the safest route possible for the league to resume.
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) recently tested its employees in anticipation of the reopening of its offices and workplaces, while also testing players of its three ball clubs.
Beermen team manager Gee Abanilla said all of his team’s players were tested and that there’s nothing to worry about.“All of our players and coaches got tested,” Abanilla said. “It was alright. A bit uncomfortable, but bearable.”
“Currently, we are working with partner laboratories to process the tests, but once our lab is up, we expect to be able to process more tests quickly so we don’t burden the system and we can take care of our employees,” SMC president Ramon Ang said. —with a report from Cedelf P. Tupas
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