JUNE Mar Fajardo of San Miguel and Alaska big man Vic Manuel are the two frontrunners for the Best Player of the Conference award, but they have one other thing in common.
Both were mentored by San Miguel great Danny Ildefonso.
Fajardo has won an unprecedented four straight MVPs since being mentored by Danny I in their days together at San Miguel while Manuel has benefited from the latter's tutelage at Alaska, where Ildefonso is now assistant coach.
“Sobrang ganda ng nilalaro niya ngayong conference,” Fajardo, a six-time Best Player of the Conference awardee who now trails the vastly improved Manuel in the BPC race in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
“Grabe 20-plus a game. Sobrang ganda ng nilalaro niya," SMB's gentle giant added, pointing to Manuel's streak of 11 games scoring at least 20 points.
The two are also crossing paths in the playoffs beginning Saturday when second-seed Alaska and No. 6 San Miguel collide in a best-of-five semifinal series.
Fajardo is not slowing down, either.
The Gilas Pilipinas slotman had a double-double of 19 points and12 rebounds to go with four steals when the Beermen beat TNT on Wednesday, 106-102, to complete a sweep of their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
The two are not expected to go head-to-head, but Fajardo said Manuel will definitely be a marked man in the semifinal showdown.
“Kailangang markahan namin siya. Meron naman sigurong tao na designated sa kanya. Kailangan lang namin magtulungan,” said Fajardo.
Fajardo is also expected to be the focal point of Alaska’s defense, but the four-time MVP said it will still take a total team effort to overcome the Aces.
“Team game ‘yan eh. Siguro ma-stop nila ako pero meron kaming ibang players na puwede mag-score sa amin. Kailangan lang maglaro as a team at gamitin ‘yung two days na pahinga para ready kami,” said Fajardo.