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Fajardo leads PBA BPC race

JUNMAR Fajardo vs Dorian Pena

Games Tomorrow (Mall of Asia Arena)
5:45 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs San Mig Super Coffee
8 p.m. – Petron Blaze vs Barako Bull

Manila, Philippines – June Mar Fajardo’s team Petron Blaze is one win away from marching to the semifinal round of the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup, which is his main focus even as he continues to lead the race for Best Player of the Conference (BPC) in this all-Filipino tournament.

The 6-10 sophomore center posted another double-double effort for the Boosters as he collected 15 points and 11 rebounds with two shots blocks in 37 minutes of action in Petron’s come-from-behind 101-88 win over Barako Bull in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinal playoff series.

“Ang importante sa ngayon maka-advance kami sa next round, and sana sa championship,” said Fajardo after Petron’s victory against Barako Bull which they will face again tomorrow as they try to end the series in Game 2 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

“Hindi ko muna iniisip ‘yun (BPC) award, kung dadating, dadating naman ‘yan. Importante sa ngayon focus na matulungan ang team maka-pasok sa susunod na round,” added Fajardo, who is eyeing his first title in the PBA after coming up short in his rookie year when Petron lost in Game 7 to San Mig in the Governors’ Cup last season.

The native of Cebu is currently the leader in the Statistical Points (SP) for the conference top performer as he garnered a total of 40.4 SP through the elimination round of the Philippine Cup.

Although he missed three out of 14 games during the eliminations because of a strained MCL on his right knee, Fajardo still averaged 15.1 points, a conference-high 15.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and second-best 2.5 shot blocks. He is just one of three players to average double-double in the eliminations.

The other two players averaging double fi gure in points and rebounds this conference are Air21’s veteran center Asi Taulava (13.2 points and 14.2 rebounds) and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel 7-foot rookie Greg Slaughter (15.7 points and 10.2 rebounds).

Incidentally, both the 6-foot-10 Taulava and Slaughter, the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s PBA Rookie Draft are in the Top 10 of the BPC race, with Slaughter in share of third with reigning MVP Arwind Santos with identical 35.6 SPs, while the 4-year-old Taulava is at No. 9 with 29.7 SP.

In close second in the BPC is Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar with 38.8 SP.

The 6-foot-9 forward has helped the Kings finish with 11-3 record after the eliminations, averaging 18.9 points, 8.9 boards 1.6, assists, and a league-best 3.5 shot blocks. Aside from his rim-rattling dunks that ended up in the weekly top plays, Aguilar also has two game-winning three-point shots versus Talk ’N Text and Meralco.

Completing the Top 10 in the BPC race are Globalport’s Jay Washington fifth spot (34.1), Talk ’N Text’s Jayson Castro at sixth (33.6), Alaska’s Sonny Thoss is at No. 7 (30.7), San Mig’s Mark Barroca at eighth place (30.5) and TNT’s Ranidel de Ocampo at 10th (29.6).

The BPC winner will be named possibly in Game 4 of the Philippine Cup Finals.

Meanwhile, the PBA playoff resumes tomorrow with San Mig Coffee also aiming to closeout defending three-time champion TNT after the Mixers took Game 1 of their series opener, 90-83, also last Tuesday.

The winner of this series will face either No. 1 Ginebra or No. 8 Alaska.

On the other hand, the winner of the Petron versus Barako Bull showdown will tackle in the next round either No. 2 Rain or Shine or No. 7 Globalport. The Kings and the Elasto Painters carry twice-to-beat incentives against the Aces and the Batang Pier.