6:30 p.m. -- Ginebra vs. Meralco (Game 5)
SAN Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo did it again.
The young Beermen center, as expected, ran away with his fourth consecutive Most Valuable
Player title in the annual Leo Awards at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
His fourth MVP award serves as a testimony of how he has dominated Asia’s first-ever play for
play league since being made the No. 1 pick overall in the 2012 rookie draft.
The 27-year- old Cebuano, who led the San Miguel Beer to victories in the last two conferences
(Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup), joined the company of retired cagers Ramon Fernandez and Alvin
Patrimonio who were both four-time winners of the highest individual honor.
Danny Ildefonso (2000 and 2001), Alvin Patrimonio (1993 and 94), and William ‘Bogs’ Adornado
(1975 and 76) are the only players to win the PBA’s highest individual award in successive years.
“Unang una nagpapasalamat ako kay God, sobrang blessed talaga ako,” said the 6-foot-10 SMB
slotman after receiving the prestigious awards rites prior to last night’s Game 4 between Barangay
Ginebra and Meralco.
Looking shy at first and admitting he was nervous, Fajardo nevertheless went on to express his
gratitude to the PBA, the media, the fans, fellow players, as well as to the team’s coaching staff.
“Pasalamat ako sa San Miguel, sa suporta ng team, sa mga coaches, hindi ko makukuha to hindi sa
kanila,” added Fajardo.
The gentle SMB giant has now added the award to his swelling list of achievements in his five-
year cage career that started in 2012 when he was selected number one by SMB in the Draft.
Prior to winning the quadruple feat, Fajardo was also one-time finals MVP (2015 Govs’ Cup), and
5-time best player of conference awardee (2013 Philippine Cup, 2014 Phil. Cup, 2015 Govs’ Cup, 2016
Phil Cup and 2017 Philippine Cup). All these he collected in the course of leading San Miguel to five
Of course, Fajardo got the highest praises from the management of San Miguel.
“Huwag lang siya magbabago, marami pang MVP na darating sa kanya,” said San Miguel Corp. sports
director Alfrancis Chua. “Mabait na bata ‘yan at masipag.”
“For me, he is a rare Filipino athlete who comes to the PBA once in a blue moon. He has the
skills set to be the best among the best in any era,” SMB team manager Gee Abanilla said.
With Fajardo in the First Mythical team were three of his teammates in Arwind Santos, Chris
Ross, Alex Cabagnot, with Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra getting the last slot.
Making up the 2nd Mythical Team were Joe Devance (Ginebra), Jayson Castro (TNT), LA Tenorio (Ginebra),
Kelly Williams (TNT) and Cliff Hodge (Meralco).
Also hogging the limelight during the annual awards for individual honors were Talk ‘N Text’s
Roger Pogoy who was adjudged Rookie of the Year, Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood who was bestowed with
2017 Sportsmanship award, and Ross who came away with the Most Improved Player award.
Fajardo also made it to the 2017 All-Defensive Team that also includes Norwood, Aguilar, Jio
Jalalon and Ross.
Meanwhile, Meralco’s Ranidel De Ocampo chances of playing in the finals became dim as an MRI
conducted on the veteran Meralco forward on Wednesday night showed a significant tear on his left calf
muscle that should keep him out for the duration of the best-of-seven title series.
“Baka hindi na,” said De Ocampo in an interview with Spin.ph’s Gerry Ramos. “Punit e. Malaki