THE season may still be far from over, but Petron big man and top overall pick Junemar Fajardo has all but conceded the Rookie of the Year award to Alaska’s dynamic newcomer Calvin Abueva.
After witnessing how the former NCAA Most Valuable Player inspired the Aces to a semifinal win over dethroned PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion San Mig Coffee, the 6-10 Fajardo believes it’s about time he sets his sights on other yearend individual awards.
“Hindi ko na siguro hinahabol `yun (Rookie of the Year award). Sa kanya na `yun. Deserving si Calvin dun, kasi iba talaga ang ipinapakita niya,” said Fajardo, who is on a short vacation in his hometown of Pinamungajan in Cebu.
Fajardo admits he admires Abueva’s game, saying the rookie sensation is the biggest reason why the Uytengsu organization is back in the finals after plunging to new lows following the departure of former coach Tim Cone.
“Tingin ko isa talaga si Abueva sa malaking factor. Kasi ma-hustle si Abueva eh. Siya yung nagdadala ng energy sa kanila,” said Fajardo, who is proud to be in the same rookie batch as the fiery Pampangueno dribbler who was selected behind him at No. 2 overall.
And with how Abueva helped turn things around for Alaska this season, Fajardo is also one with fans who think the player they call 'The Beast' has a good shot at becoming only the second Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awardee after Benjie Paras in 1989.
“Hindi imposible yun. Basta laging bigay todo ang laro niya, kaya niya yun,” said the humble Cebuano giant.