SOPHOMORE big man June Mar Fajardo is on track to win a second Best Player of the Conference award this season, and hopefully, a first ever Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Most Valuable Player award.
Sadly though, the same thing can’t be said as far as winning his first championship in the pro league is concerned.
Fajardo admitted his season-long effort to help San Miguel end a three-year title drought went down the drain following the Beermen’s quarterfinal exit on Tuesday night in the season-ending Governors Cup at the hands of grand slam-seeking San Mig Super Coffee, 97-90.
“Sobrang disappointed, masakit talaga,” Fajardo told Spin.ph a day after the Beermen ended yet another disappointing season without a PBA championship.
Fajardo averaged career-high numbers of 21.2 points and 15.9 rebounds in the final conference of the year, improving by leaps and bounds this season after a slow start to his pro career last year.
Currently, the 24-year-old center leads the statistical race for the Best Player of the Conference and the season MVP derby.
But the San Miguel big man stressed he isn’t paying much attention to individual awards, stressing his priority remains the team.
“Yung individual awards, reward lang iyan sa hardwork mo, pero ang championship talaga ang gusto ko, kasi iyan ang ultimate prize,” Fajardo pointed out.
He said San Miguel initially showed some signs of life during the season-opening Philippine Cup when it reached as far as the semifinals before eventually yielding to Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven series, 4-1.
But the two import-spiced conferences that followed didn’t end the way the team wanted.
Seeded second, the Beermen lost twice to seventh seed Air21 in the first stage of the Commissioner’s Cup playoffs. Then just last Tuesday, a crucial second-half breakdown led to another early ouster at the hands of defending champion San Mig Mixers.
“Maganda naman ang season namin. Ang hindi lang naging maganda eh 'yung endgame kasi marami kaming lapses,” explained Fajardo, who won his first Best Player of the Conference trophy during the Philippine Cup.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo is charging this season’s disappointment to experience, hoping that the adversity the Beermen had gone through will make them stronger as they prepare for the league’s 40th season this October.
“Pero at least, marami kaming matututunan for next season,” he said.
Fajardo intends to rest his aching body and legs for the next few weeks, before returning to action with Gilas Pilipinas as it resumes its preparation for the Fiba-World Cup in Spain, and later on, the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.