San Miguel Beer’s young big man June Mar Fajardo established himself as the Philippines’ top basketball player after bagging a historic third straight PBA Most Valuable Player trophy during the Annual Leo Awards Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Proving he is cut above the rest, the 26-year old Fajardo became the first PBA player to clinch the highest individual award in three straight seasons after just playing in his fourth season as a pro.
The gentle giant of San Miguel surpassed the league’s back-to-back MVP winners in history, a category that included just William “Bogs” Adornado (1975 and 1976), Alvin Patrimonio (1993 and 1994) and Danny Ildefonso (2000 and 2001), Fajardo’s mentor during his rookie season with Petron (SMB’s former name).
It was another landslide win for Fajardo after coming out first in the statistical points race, while garnering the most votes from the media, players, and Commissioner’s Office for a total of 3,079 points.
Fajardo handily beat Governors Cup Best Player Jayson Castro of TNT, who came in a distant second with 597 total SPs.
The San Miguel big man also scooped up several more awards, after being part of the the Mythical First team, the All-Defensive Team, and being named the Samboy Lim-Sportsmanship Award for the second straight season.
Joining Fajardo in the Mythical Five are SMB teammate Arwind Santos, Alaska forward Calvin Abueva, GlobalPort’s explosive guard Terrence Romeo and TNT’s Castro.
The Mythical second team was composed of NLEX slotman Asi Taulava and teammate Sean Anthony, Ginebra forward Japeth Aguilar and guards Alex Cabagnot of San Miguel and Kings playmaker LA Tenorio.
Meanwhile, named to the All-Defensive team were Star forward Marc Pingris, Aguilar, Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood, Alaska pesky guard Ping Exciminiano and San Miguel Fil-American Chris Ross.
Pingris, the 6-foot-5 energetic forward, moves into a tie with Glen Capacio with at least eight All-Defensive team citations, just one behind all-time leader Jerry Codinera.
Other big winners in the Leo Awards were Rain or Shine’s sophomore guard Jericho Cruz, who was named Most Improved Player and Meralco wingman Chris Ross, who was named the Rookie of the Year, beating out TNT’s Troy Rosario. – Jason Mercene
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