San Miguel big man June Mar Fajardo is once again the PBA’s Most Valuable Player, nabbing the league’s top individual award for an unprecedented seventh time.
He was handed the Leo Trophy, named after the league’s first commissioner, Leo Prieto, shortly before the opening of the PBA Season 48 on Sunday, November 5.
“Salamat sa award na ito, kayo ang nagbigay nito,” the gentle giant from Cebu told fans at the Araneta Coliseum.
“Dine-dedicate ko ang award ko na ito sa mama ko. Sana nandito siya ngayon,” he added.
Fajardo gained 1,244 statistical points, and 152 and 852 from the player and media votes, respectively, to regain the crown, besting Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger of Ginebra.
Aside from claiming the top individual award, the Gilas Pilipinas superstar was also included among the league’s First Mythical and All Defensive teams.
Fajardo revealed afterward that he thought he would never get to this point, especially after sustaining a serious injury four years ago.
“Noong na-injure ako, nabali ang tibia ko, nag-cross talaga sa isip ko na baka ‘yun na ang end ng career ko, kasi malala [na],” Fajardo said.
This is why he is thankful to all the specialists who helped him through the recovery process.
“Thankful ako sa lahat. Sila ang nagtulong-tulong para makabalik ako sa game,” he said.
Converge’s Justin Arana was named as the PBA Rookie of the Year, while new Ginebra Gin King Maverick Ahanmisi was picked as the Most Improved Player of the Year.
Completing the First Mythical Team are Thompson, his Ginebra’s teammates Standhardinger and Jamie Malonzo, and San Miguel’s CJ Perez.
The All Defensive Team is made up of Standhardinger, Fajardo, Magnolia’s Jio Jalalon, and Meralco’s Cliff Hodge and Chris Newsome. (ABS-CBN News)