JUNE Mar Fajardo was a towering presence again for Philippine basketball in the year just passed, literally and figuratively.
The 6-foot-10 pride of San Miguel anchored the greatest comeback ever in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) history during the Philippine Cup finals between San Miguel and Alaska to cap a dominant season that saw him become the first ever player to win a third straight Most Valuable Player award.
The feat easily earned Fajardo the title Mr. Basketball from the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) and will be honored with the recognition when it holds its traditional Awards Night presented by MILO and San Miguel on Feb. 13 at the LE PAVILLON in Pasay City.
Fajardo is the second recipient of the award first handed out to Calvin Abueva of Alaska and Globalport’s Terrence Romeo last year.
Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz is the recipient of the 2016 Athlete of the Year award during the formal affair co-presented by CIGNAL/HYPER TV by virtue of her inspiring silver medal achievement in the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
Fajardo returned from a knee injury he sustained in the semifinals of the All-Filipino conference just in time to boost a San Miguel side that was on the verge of defeat after trailing Alaska, 0-3, in the best-of-seven finals.
The Beermen overcame the tremendous deficit with Fajardo returning to action in Game Five and helping the franchise became the first team in league annals to accomplish the feat.
By season’s end, Fajardo rewarded himself with another MVP trophy -- his third consecutive -- and joined an elite group of cage greats composed of Ramon Fernandez, Alvin Patrimonio, and William ‘Bogs’ Adornado as the only three-time winner or more of the league’s highest individual award.
Other than Diaz, Asia’s first Grandmaster Eugene Torre was the other awardee already named by the PSA earlier. The 65-year-old Torre will be the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement award.