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PBA: Fajardo chases El Presidente

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With the way things are going in the early stages of the PBA season, June Mar Fajardo could be on his way to tying the great Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio for the most number of Most Valuable Player awards.

This after Fajardo emerged as the leader in the race for the Best Player of the Conference award in the Philippine Cup, posting an average of 44.2 Statistical Points halfway into the season-opening conference.

The man they call as “The Kraken,” who earned the nickname ever since he got rave reviews from fans who saw his humble beginning in the Cebu cage ranks, holds a big lead over GlobalPort guard Terrence Romeo (37.5 SP), thus boosting his chances of winning the league’s most coveted individual award for the fourth straight time, a streak no PBA player has ever done.

Fajardo had already made history as the first player to win the PBA MVP award in three straight seasons. But another MVP would put him in a tie for the most all-time with Fernandez and Patrimonio.

Fernandez won the MVP in 1982 for Toyota, 1984 with Beer Hausen, 1986 for Tanduay and 1988 while playing for Purefoods and San Miguel, while Patrimonio was hailed as the league’s best in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997, all with the Purefoods franchise.

Winning the BPC plum holds a big weight in Fajardo’s chances for another MVP, especially if he can lead the Beermen to a third straight title in the Philippine Cup.

The winners of the BPC in all three conferences, including the next two in the Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup, are automatic candidates but the Philippine Cup’s best player enjoys a 40 percent share in the final tabulation as compared to 30 percent each in the other conferences.

The 6-foot-10 gentle giant was flattered with the early results of the BPC race, but said that winning the championship is more important than individual accolades.

“Hindi ko iniisip yun, mas importante na manalo kami ng championship, na ma-retain namin yung Philippine Cup title na napanalunan namin the last two years na,” the five-year veteran said yesterday.

“Ito naman yung goal, manalo ng championships. Kung may dumating na award, bonus na lang sabi nya yung ganun. Mas importante sa akin yung championships,” added Fajardo.

As much as the 27-year-old Fajardo tries to sway things and ignore it, leading the BPC race this early is a strong indication that he’s on track for another MVP plum.

He is averaging 20.2 points, league-best 17.2 rebounds with 1.3 assists and 1.5 shot blocks per game for the Beermen, who are leading the Philippine Cup with five wins and one defeat.

In the previous season, Fajardo was the BPC winner in the Philippine Cup, Calvin Abueva took the award in the Commissioner’s Cup while TNT’s Jayson Castro was the BPC of the Governors’ Cup.

Fajardo also emerged as the Statistical Points leader by the end of last season – or prior to the annual Leo Awards – and won the votes from players, media and PBA Commissioner’s Office.

Out to foil Fajardo’s run for a fifth BPC are Romeo, his SMB teammate Alex Cabagnot, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Japeth Aguilar and rookie Mac Belo of Blackwater.

Romeo, the current scoring leader with 27 points per game, is at second spot, while Cabagnot has 34.6 SP, followed by Aguilar with 33.2 SP, and Belo – the top rookie pick – has 33.0.

Completing the Top 10 are SMB’s Arwind Santos (31.3), Abueva (31.0), Castro (30.3), Phoenix Fuel rookie Matthew Wright (30.2) and Meralco sophomore Chris Newsome (29.8).

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