Late bloomer June Mar Fajardo says growing trophy collection a product of plain hard work
JuneMar Fajardo hopes to stay healthy to have a chance at more trophies. Jerome Ascano

JUNE Mar Fajardo has already accomplished so much for a late bloomer in basketball.

He started playing the country’s most beloved sport competitively only in college and yet has a growing collection of awards to fill an extra-large trophy cabinet in just his third year as a pro.

The San Miguel Beer star is coming off his most fruitful year yet, having won a league and Finals MVP, two Best Player of the Conference awards, a Mythical Five and All-Defensive team selections, a Sportsmanship award, and, most important, two championships in the PBA.

“Best season so far,” Fajardo said after the Beermen swept Alaska with a 91-81 decision in Game Four of the Governors’ Cup Finals on Friday night. “Sobrang blessed lang talaga ako ni God this year.”

And the 25-year-old pride of Pinamungajan, Cebu can only point to perseverance and hard work for coming a long way in such short period.

“Sikap lang talaga,” the soft-spoken giant said. “Hindi mo naman ma-a-achieve yung mga nakuha ko ngayon kung nakaupo lang ako at walang ginagawa. Pag may pangarap, mag-tiyaga lang.”

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“Kahit every practice, konti-konting improvement lang tapos pag dating ng panahon, lalaki din ‘yun eh,” he was quick to add. “Kaysa naman pupunta ka ng practice to show up lang – sa sarili mo, hindi mo iniisip mag-improve, so pag dating ng panahon, hindi ka talaga mag-i-improve.”

Fajardo put an exclamation point to his most successful pro year by tallying 19 points and hauling down 21 rebounds to lead the Beermen in completing a rare sweep of the best-of-seven series against the Aces.

The first overall pick in the 2012 Draft pointed to his coaches, led by Leo Austria, and his teammates for getting him to where he is.

“Sila yung nag-push sa akin para mag-improve,” Fajardo said. “Tinulungan nila ako.”

Together, he hopes the Beermen can sustain their dominance in the pros after winning their 21st championship overall.

“Dagdagan pa yung championship ko,” Fajardo said. “Sana healthy kami lagi, yung team.”

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Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos