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SEVENTH HEAVEN — PBA hands Fajardo MVP trophy

photograph by Joey sanchez Mendoza for the daily tribune @tribunephl_joey JUNE Mar Fajardo of San Miguel (middle) beams with pride after winning his seventh PBA Most Valuable Player award yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Joining him are Mythical First Team members (from left) Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra, CJ Perez of San Miguel, Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger of Ginebra.

It doesn’t look as if June Mar Fajardo has gone tired of collecting Most Valuable Player trophies.

“There is still enough space as it’s big enough,” Fajardo told sportswriters about his trophy room after bagging his seventh MVP award from the Philippine Basketball Association during the Leo Prieto Awards Sunday afternoon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The San Miguel Beer slotman garnered 1,244 statistical points, 152 from fellow players, and 852 from the media for a grand total of 2248, beating teammate CJ Perez and Barangay Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger.

These four players were joined by Jamie Malonzo of Ginebra in making up the Mythical First Team.

Fajardo also cracked the All-Defensive Team along with Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge of Meralco, Standhardinger and Jio Jalalon of Magnolia.

For Fajardo, winning another MVP award came on the heels of yet another memorable campaign playing for Gilas Pilipinas in major international tournaments such as the FIBA World Cup and the gold medal feat in the Hangzhou Asian Games.

Fajardo admitted playing for the national team has made him a much better player.

“It’s a big boost playing for the national team,” said Fajardo. “You’ll be competing against the best of the best. When you get back to the PBA, your confidence is so high.”

“Playing for the national team has helped my career a great deal and that’s why whenever I’m healthy, I never hesitated playing for the national team.”

The 6-foot-10 Fajardo has just reclaimed his status as the toast of the league, while an emerging rising big man ended up as the Rookie of the Year: Justin Arana of Converge.

Maverick Ahanmisi, who just had a breakout season, but is now starting the 48th edition of the league playing for Barangay Ginebra, wound up as the Most Improved Player pick.

Kevin Alas of NLEX won the Sportsmanship Award for the second straight season.

Before the league handed out numerous coveted awards, the 48th season took off in style with the traditional parade of teams featuring their respective muses.

Movie and television personalities Julie Anne San Jose of Magnolia, Herlene Budol of Blackwater, Yuki Takahashi of Phoenix, and Heaven Paralejo of Barangay Ginebra stood out from the roster of pretty faces on display.

Jose Manalo and Wally Bayola of EAT provided the entertainment during the opening ceremonies.

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