April 02, 2023

7th MVP beckons as June Mar Fajardo continues to lead the pack

7th MVP beckons as June Mar Fajardo continues to lead the pack

The pandemic years haven’t been too kind to June Mar Fajardo. He missed the entire 2020 due to a complete fracture of his right tibia and had to slowly ease his way back into game shape for most of 2021. Along the way, Fajardo lost his beloved mom — no doubt a setback that tugged the most at the gentle giant’s big heart.

Through it all, Fajardo persevered. And now, three years later, it is safe to say the six-time MVP is back to being The Kraken. He is so all the way back that he is in line to win an almost unheard of 7th MVP award.

That 7th MVP is well within reach for Fajardo as he is leading the league with 28.9 statistical points (SP) at the start of the Governors’ Cup. The 6-10 Gilas mainstay as of posting is four points clear of second-placer Scottie Thompson, who leapfrogged into MVP contention thanks to Ginebra’s Commissioner’s Cup conquest, which saw the do-it-all guard up his SPs to 24.9.

Fajardo, though, is unlikely to give much ground, not after posting per game averages of 18 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in the Commissioner’s Cup — practically the same as the 18.7 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 3.1 assists the big man normed in the Philippine Cup.

All things even, in fact, Fajardo is probably going to win the MVP again barring — knock on wood — a momentous San Miguel collapse this conference (somewhere along the lines of the Beermen missing the playoffs or not reaching the semis) or another major setback for the affable Cebuano (like the throat injury that sidelined Fajardo for about a month last conference).

Aside from Fajardo and Thompson, Cjay Perez, Robert Bolick, and Jamie Malonzo are also in the running for the PBA’s most coveted individual accolade, with 24.6, 23.2, and 21.9 SPs, respectively. Just outside the top 5 are Christian Standhardinger (21.1 SPs) and Mikey Williams (20.6 SPs).