June Mar Fajardo

June Mar Fajardo Collects Another BPC Then Goes Out And Dominates

San Miguel’s franchise player has once again been rewarded for another dominant performance in the Philippine Cup.

Gentle giant June Mar Fajardo continues to add to his trophy collection.

The 6’10” San Miguel center was named Best Player of the Conference just before Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, and honestly the result was hardly surprising.

Fajardo lorded it over the BPC race with 1,100 points, 449 points ahead of his closest pursuer, 2023 top overall pick Stephen Holt of the Terrafirma Dyip. June Mar’s averages of  17.4 points and 14.3 rebounds gave him 472 statistical points, which tied him for first with NorthPort Batang Pier’s Robert Bolick. He lorded it over the voting categories, collecting 514 media votes and 114 player votes.

About the only surprise in the voting was Holt finishing second despite the Dyip being eliminated as early as the quarterfinals. Holt tallied a total of 651 points, edging out Bolick who had 641. The super rookie put up impressive numbers of 21.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.5 steals, but the Dyip lost to the Beermen in the quarterfinals.

The other two candidates were Fajardo’s SMB teammate CJ Perez and Barangay Ginebra center Christian Standhardinger.

For June Mar, the win now gives him 10 BPC awards, double the number won by the two legends tied for second – Jayson Castro of TNT Tropang Giga and retired San Miguel great Danny Ildefonso. It also gives him a leg up on a possible eighth Most Valuable Player award, which would further bolster his case in the PBA G.O.A.T. debate.

The Philippine Cup has always been Fajardo’s personal playground. Of his ten BPCs, eight have come in this conference. With no imports to potentially slow him down, he regularly feasts on local defenders in the paint. If he hadn’t suffered a serious leg injury in early 2020 that forced him to miss the Philippine Cup bubble tournament that year and slowed him down the following season, that figure would likely be higher.

What was funny was that Fajardo didn’t even know that the award would be handed out that night. But once ceremony was done and the trophy handed to him, JMF immediately went to work. He dropped 12 points in the first quarter alone as the Beermen, for the first time in the series, took control early and held on for a series-tying 111-101 win.

Fajardo finished with a season-high 28 points on 9-of-14 shooting, underscoring his dominant play this conference. It was also a crucial turnaround for him after he committed seven turnovers and was held to just five shots and 12 points in the Beermen’s tight Game 3 loss.

But he quickly dispelled any notion that his performance was a direct result of the BPC.

Motivated ako hindi dahil sa BPC,” he told the media after the game. “Motivated ako kasi kailangan namin manalo. Down kami ng one game.

Kahit sino sa team namin kaya mag-BPC kasi madaming magaling.”

“June Mar really worked hard for it,” Beermen coach Jorge Gallent said. “It doesn’t come easy. He really worked hard for it. So I’m happy that he got it.”

Of course, this award will be useless if the Beermen don’t go on to win the title. Although the series is now essentially a best-of-three, SMB has found the Bolts a tougher opponent than most expected. Were it not for timely baskets from CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter in Game 2, they likely would have been staring at 0-3 deficit heading into Game 4.

Gallent knows the hard work is just about to begin.

“Well, it’s a great win for us today. But we just tied the series and we just made it a best of three. I’m just happy that we talked about a lot of stuff yesterday in practice. And we just talked to one another and said that, you know, if we trust our teammates and we share the ball, that offense would come. And it showed.”

Banner images from PBA Media Bureau.

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