Kelly Williams Takes pride in Defending against June Mar Fajardo

Even though June Mar Fajardo has been the best player in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup finals, the TNT Tropang GIGA has been able to keep up with the San Miguel Beermen.

Last Sunday, in Game 4, Fajardo scored 20 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, but the Tropang GIGA won 100-87, tying the best-of-seven series at two games each.

The Tropang GIGA only turned the ball over three times in the game, which is the fewest in PBA history. However, TNT assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga thinks their defense was also a big reason they won. San Miguel’s field goal percentage was 44%, but they were only 4-of-22 from long distances. Their 15 mistakes also gave TNT 15 points.

Arespacochaga said, “We all felt like we stepped up on D.” “Of course, Kelly [Williams] has the most work to do against June Mar every game, but a lot of players helped by putting pressure on the guards and helping out when needed it.”

Kelly Williams TNT’s First Line of Defense 

Kelly Williams TNT's First Line of Defense

Williams has been TNT’s first line of defense against Fajardo, standing strong against the “Kraken” whenever he gets the ball inside the post. The former PBA Most Valuable Player has also done his best to get Fajardo out of his comfort zone and stop him from getting the ball in the first place.

It doesn’t always work, as Fajardo’s ridiculous numbers in the series show. But Williams keeps his defensive job in perspective and thinks they are doing their best against Fajardo, one of the best players of all time.

“Since June Mar, no one will be able to stop him one-on-one. Even if you work as a team, it will be hard. He is too tall, too smart, and too strong, “Williams told us. “So I plan to give him a little bit of trouble; what’s more, attempt to dial him back however much as could reasonably be expected, realizing that my group has me covered.”

Fajardo gives his best shots in the finals.

Fajardo has been excellent in the finals, making nearly 67% of his shots. He averages 21 points, 17.5 rebounds, and more than 40 minutes of play per game. TNT has sent him triple and quadruple teams, but he has been able to score even when they were there.

It doesn’t surprise Williams, and he doesn’t beat himself up too much when Fajardo scores a lot or makes a hard shot.

“You’re used to that. And he knows what he’s doing. As I said, he’s enormous and solid; he’s going to get his. So if anyone in that situation thinks I’m going to stop him, they’ll be wrong. “He made that clear.

“It’s not my goal to stop June Mar. My goal is to make it hard for him, and that’s how I think about everyone I play against, “he added. “Trying to protect June Mar is a lot of work, but I take it in stride and with pride.”

“It’s a privilege to be paired with someone as good as he is, and I’m just going to try to keep enjoying the journey and the chance.”

TNT held CJ Perez in Game 4

The fact that the series is tied even though Fajardo is putting up huge numbers shows how well they have been defending his teammates. In Game 4, TNT held CJ Perez to only 13 places and held Marcio Lassiter back from going off until late, when the Tropang GIGA was in control. Another fast San Miguel guard, Jericho Cruz, could only score six points.

“It’s a game for teams. So, someone on their team is going to get them. Whether your name is June Mar or Marcio, CJ. You almost have to choose your poison, “said Williams.

“For us, we’re just going to keep supporting each other and betting on ourselves and the system that got us here,” he said. “We’re just going to keep building and try to make as few mistakes as possible and see what happens.” On Wednesday, they will play the series’ fifth game at the Araneta Coliseum.