Fa­jardo is new PBA bench­mark

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS - By NEL­SON BEL­TRAN

And it came to pass that this hum­ble Ce­buano gi­ant shat­tered the long-stand­ing record of two PBA leg­ends and es­tab­lished him­self as the new bench­mark in in­di­vid­ual great­ness in the league’s premier cage league.

Heck­led on the court as a gan­gling youth back in his days in Cebu, June Mar Fa­jardo now has got the ad­mi­ra­tion and adu­la­tion of the Filipino bas­ket­ball fans as well as his peers and foes as a five-time PBA MVP win­ner.

Fa­jardo stood mighty proud at mid-court as he earned his fifth MVP plum and led the honor rolls in PBA Sea­son 43 Leo’s Awards Night at the Philip­pine Arena in Bo­caue, Bu­la­can last night.

“I can’t be­lieve it as peo­ple used to laugh at me on the court,” said Fa­jardo, ex­tend­ing his reign as PBA MVP to a fifth straight sea­son af­ter los­ing the Rookie of the Year award to Calvin Abueva in 2013.

The Pi­na­munga­jan, Cebu na­tive ac­knowl­edged a lot of peo­ple who helped his rise to great­ness. First and fore­most are his par­ents Boni­fa­cio and Marites whom he in­vited to join him on the floor dur­ing the rites.

“They’re my big­gest in­spi­ra­tions. We’re poor but they stuck to­gether and raised us – me and brother Jay – as good per­sons,” said Fa­jardo.

As in the pre­vi­ous years, Fa­jardo hauled a num­ber of Leo Trophies as MVP and as a mem­ber of the Myth­i­cal First Team and for his All-De­fen­sive Team ci­ta­tion.

Stan­ley Pringle, Paul Lee, Marcio Las­siter and Japeth Aguilar also made the Myth­i­cal First Team while Gabe Nor­wood, Rafi Reavis, Rome dela Rosa and Chris Ross joined Fa­jardo in the All-De­fen­sive Team.

Thomp­son bagged the Most Im­proved Player plum and joined Poy Er­ram, Ar­wind San­tos, Matthew Wright and Mark Bar­roca in the Myth­i­cal Sec­ond Team.

Ja­son Perkins, mean­while, emerged the run­away win­ner of the Rookie of the Year award.

But it’s the night of Fa­jardo as he broke the record four MVP awards of Ra­mon Fer­nan­dez and Alvin Pat­ri­mo­nio.

“They will be for­ever PBA leg­ends. It re­ally so hap­pened that I landed at San Miguel Beer, a strong team where I’ve got to be with good team­mates, and we’re al­ways fig­ur­ing in the play­offs,” said Fa­jardo. “Ewan ko kung ano ang nag­yari kung sa ibang team ako na­punta,” he added.

Fa­jardo cred­ited his col­lege coaches Rhoel Gomez and Caleb Gawan­gon, and ad­viser Bal­domero Estenzo for the traits and in­di­vid­ual skills he pos­sesses now. “Sila ang nag­turo sa akin. Kung ano ang mga tin­uro nila, dala-dala ko hang­gang ngayon,” said Fa­jardo.

“Up to now, Mr. Estenzo will call me up when I miss free throws. Back at Univer­sity of Cebu, he’s our team man­ager and he didn’t want us to go easy in prac­tice. He wanted us to al­ways go hard,” Fa­jardo also said.

And even now that he’s al­ready the league bench­mark, Fa­jardo doesn’t in­tend to go slow.

“I want to keep on im­prov­ing. I don’t want to be stag­nant,” said Fa­jardo. “And so it doesn’t end here. May ka­sunod pa

ito,” added Fa­jardo, hint­ing at win­ning more MVP awards.

JUN MEN­DOZA

Five-time MVP win­ner June Mar Fa­jardo.

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