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June Mar reigns supreme in 2016

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Someday, June Mar Fajardo’s face is going to light up whenever someone reminds him what 2016 was like.

The year was not simply memorable for the 6-10 Cebuano pride; it was historic.

Fajardo, known as ‘The Kraken,” bagged a third straight Most Valuable Player (MVP) award during the 41st PBA Season, thus becoming the first player in league history to capture the top individual plum in successive times.

In winning the award, Fajardo averaged a career-best 19.73 points per game during the 2015-16 Season while adding 12.21 rebounds and 1.25 assists.

Prior to his record-setting achievement, the mild-mannered Fajardo is already on the ‘elite’ cast of back-to-back MVP winners with ex-pros William “Bogs” Adornado (1975-1976), Alvin Patrimonio (1993-1994) and former SMB Danny Ildefonso (2000-2001).

The 27-year-old Fajardo captured his first MVP trophy as a sophomore in 2014, repeated in 2015, and then edged Calvin Abueva of Alaska and Jayson Castro of TNT last season.

Much of Fajardo’s impact occurred during SMB’s own historic campaign during the Philippine Cup when he came back from injury to help the team win the all-important all-Filipino championship, the league’s most prestigious title.

Unable to play due to an injured right knee during the first four games of the Philippine Cup finals against Alaska, Fajardo returned in Game 5 and helped the team win the contest.

In the next two games with Fajardo regaining his old deadly form, SMB won the remaining two clashes to become the first team in PBA history to comeback from 0-3 in a best-of-seven series.

Although the Beermen failed to qualify in the finals in the next two conferences, Fajardo still delivered solid performances, which – by the end of the season – earned him not just the MVP award but also was named to the Mythical First Team.

Aside from his PBA stint, Fajardo also suited up for the Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) last July, holding his own against the top players of France led by Boris Diaw and New Zealand.

With the way Fajardo is playing in the ongoing Philippine Cup of the 42nd PBA Season, it’s not impossible for Fajardo to extend his domination as the top player in the league and join an extraordinary group of four-time MVP winners in Patrimonio and Ramon Fernandez.

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