‘The Kraken’ is unstoppable as tomorrow

January 14, 2019

THE event: 26th Summer Universiade. The  place: Shenzhen, China. The  date: August, 2011.

Few people would have guessed that they were looking at history when this 6-10 center from University of  Cebu carried the Philippine flag during the parade of nations in the 26th World University Games, also known as the Summer Universiade.

If someone had told them they were looking at the man who would become  the most dominant figure in Philippine basketball, they would have laughed.

In another time, another place, he would have been considered a major attraction in a circus.

But June Mar Fajardo -- bless his  heart --is now M-V-P in the PBA for five straight years.

He is also now widely-regarded as the greatest player in Asia's first play-for-pay league since coming to Manila in 2012.

Ramon Fernandez,  “El Presidente” himself, was elegant throughout his 19-year PBA career that brought him four MVP awards  in 1982, 1984, 1986 and 1988.

Alvin Patrimonio, the  “Captain”,  was  nearly as unstoppable in bagging four MVP awards in 1991, 1993, 1994 and 1997 in a coloful 16- year career with only one team, Purefoods.

On Sunday,  Fajardo  surpassed  both Fernandez and Patrimonio by winning a record fifth straight MVP award.

The  80s belonged to “El Presidente” and the 90s to the “Captain.”

Clearly, the 2000s is "Kraken time.

In a game where height is might,  the  6-10 San Miguel Beer center  is constantly felt compelled to do  more.

When healthy, he dominated the game in the way few have in the 43 years of the league. He  can get the most points, the most rebounds and the most blocked shots.

He can  really be  as unstoppable  as  tomorrow.

" Hindi ko ma-explain yung nararamdaman ko ngayon  kasi marami nangarap na makakuha rin ng award na ito tapos sa dinami-daming  player  na magaling sa PBA, ako yung napiling  maging  MVP,” said Fajardo when he received  the  first of his five  MVP awards.

And while  Fajardo attributed his success to hard work and dedication in everything he does, he is also the first to admit the road to success was not easy.

Consider:

-- In 2014, Fajardo achieved the feat by posting averages of 16.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.4 assists in 37 games for the  entire 2013-2014 season and  beating Jayson Castro (Talk N Text), Ranidel de Ocampo (Talk N Text) and Asi Taulava (Air 21) with  2614 statistical points.

-- In 2015, Fajardo averaged 17.4  points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 assists in 54 fames to beat Castro and  Greg Slaughter of  Barangay  Ginebra  for  the MVP award.

-- in 2016, he averaged a career-best 19.7 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 assists per game in 52 games and beat Castro, Terrence Romeo, Calvin  Abueva, and  Stanley Pringle with 1,500 statistical points for the award.

-- In 2017, he averaged 17.2 points,  11.4 tebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.6 assists in 56 games and bested San Miguel teammates Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot with 2,886 points.

-- And in 2018,  Fajardo finished with an  average of  20.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks and  garnered  2,436 points to beat Stanley  Pringle  of  NorthPort Batang Pier for the award.

Can he make it sixth straight MVP award this year?

Fernandez certainly  thinks so.

“ I  think he will dominate the league for atleast 10 more years, " Fernandez, who once taught Fajardo in their home province in Cebu, said

But  Fernandez,  who captured 19 PBA championships, said  Fajardo should maintain the proper playing weight and not gain additional pounds.

“Another area that he (Fajardo) could still get better is his defense,”  explained Fernandez.

Former PBA MVP Renato Agustin  had the same observation.

“Even before,  I  know malalagpasan  niya si Mon sa dami ng MVP awards,” said  Agustin, who  played with Fernandez with San  Miguel in the 90s.

“Halos pareho sila.Dati si Mon ‘yung  pinupuntahan  namin lagi. Marunong siyang mag-decoy and pumasa just like June Mar.  Nag-mature na din   ngayon si June Mar. Pag  dino-double siya, marunong na pumasa,” added Agustin.

It  would   be interesting  to watch  how  Fajardo would perform  in the  PBA  Season 44, which   formally started last  Sunday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue,  Bulacan.

Fajardo and San Miguel will open  their title-retention campaign  against Columbia   Dyip  on  Friday, Jan. 18 at the Cuneta Astrodome  in  Pasay City.

The Dyip  will be  led by  No. 1 overall  pick and  one-time NCAA  MVP CJ  Perez  and former UST  center Jeepy Faundo.

Then comes  the  heavyweightbattle  a gainst  Barangay Ginebra and  Greg Slaughter and  Japeth Aguilar on Sunday,  Jan. 20 atthe Araneta Colisuem.

Can’t  wait to see  the games.

NOTES -- Happy birthday to Marcelo  de Guzman, who will celebrate on  Wednesday,  Jan. 16.  De Guzman was  one of three Filipinos chosen by the Philippine Amateur Athletic  Federation (PAFF) as representatives to the International Sports Youth Assemblage of the XI Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan last  Jan. 29-Feb. 12, 1972.   He   was also one  of the first 12 recipients of the E. Rodriguez Jr. High School  (ERJHS) Alumni Sports Club Hall of Fame Awards last March 5, 2016.

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