JUNEMAR Fajardo reinforced his status as the most dominant big man in the PBA when he won the first of what is projected to be numerous Best Player of the Conference awards in his career.
The sophomore slotman from Cebu beat out Petron/San Miguel teammate Arwind Santos and Barangay Ginebra big man Japeth Aguilar for the top award in the Philippine Cup, where he topped the statistical race since the eliminations.
"Malaking achievement ito para sa akin, pero sana nanalo kami ng championship," said the Cebuano big man. "Nagpapasalamat ako sa fans, mga teammates ko at kay God dahil binigyan ako ng maraming blessings. Yung mga teammates ko kasi tinutulungan nila ako."
The 6-10 Fajardo also won the first major award of his professional career, atoning for his loss in the Rookie of the Year race last season to Alaska sensation Calvin Abueva.
In the process, the 24-year-old also became the first Best Player awardee to come from a team not in the Finals since Ginebra's Mark Caguioa in 2012.
Fajardo, last season's top rookie pick, garnered a total of 1298 points broken down to 436 statistical points, 565 from media votes, 117 from the players votes and 150 from the PBA votes, beating out teammate Santos who had 727 points.
Santos, the reigning league MVP, got 402 statistical points, 268 from the media, 32 from the players and 25 from the PBA.
Aguilar and Ginebra frontline partner Greg Slaughter finished tied for third with 531 total points while GlobalPort's Jay Washington was fifth with 398 points.