AN UNFORTUNATE injury has sidelined June Mar Fajardo for majority of the PBA’s 45th season but his impact the past season was undeniable.
Solid proof of that was the sixth straight season Most Valuable Player plum given to San Miguel Beer’s prized center yesterday during the annual Leo Awards at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Fajardo received his award on an electric single-seater trike to prevent him from putting any unnecessary pressure on his right shin bone that was operated on due to a complete fracture he suffered in practice early last month.
The injury is expected to sideline Fajardo at least until the early parts of the Governors Cup and he may not be able to rack up the required number of games needed to be among the candidates for the next awards.
But the gentle giant was still all smiles and very thankful during his speech, saying maybe “God has something else” lined up for him after he officially stretched his own league record.
“Who knows, di ba?” said Fajardo, who was joined by his parents Bonifacio and Maritess.
“Pero for sure, try kong makabalik sooner kasi gusto kong makatulong sa team,” added Fajardo. “Pero sinasabi ng mga doctors, coaches, management na huwag kong madaliin… so control lang sa sarili.”
The award automatically pushed Fajardo into his sixth straight First Mythical Team selection where he was joined by TNT’s Jayson Castro, Columbian’s CJ Perez and NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger and Sean Anthony.
Making it to the Second Mythical Team are TNT’s Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, Ginebra’s Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar and Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang.
Fajardo was also included in the All-Defensive Team along with teammate Chris Ross, Anthony, Aguilar and Perez.
Perez was named as Rookie of the Year as expected. Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood copped his third Samboy Lim Sportsmanship Award, while SMB’s Mo Tautuaa earned his first individual accolade by being named the Most Improved Player.
The league also took the occasion to hand out other awards for the first time with league pioneer Raffy Hanopol of SMB cited as Team Staff, ticketing official Gerry Mesias as PBA Loyal Employee and Jhun “Sharon” Nuestro and Tess Villanueva as co-Bida Fans.
Before the first game between SMB and Magnolia, the teams’ muses, led by showbiz stars Sarah Geronimo and Kathryn Bernardo, hogged the limelight.
Geronimo paraded with Phoenix Super while Bernardo led Magnolia in the parade.
A couple of former players’ daughters also acted as muse with Alvin Patrimonio’s daughter Christine bannering NorthPort and Alyssa Muhlach Alvarez, daughter of Paul Alvarez, joining SMB.
Taekwondo champion Pauline Lopez parade for NLEX, Ginebra went with calendar girl Sanya Lopez, while Rain or Shine unveiled Mutya ng Pilipinas Klyza Castro and Chaiyenne Huisman.
Alaska paraded Zowie Palliaer, Blackwater Joy Wu, Columbian Dyip Katrina Llegado, Meralco Leren Mae Bautista, and TNT Ariella Arida.