Mendoza: Fajardo’s 7th heaven

Mendoza: Fajardo’s 7th heaven

June Mar Fajardo extended his reign last weekend to seven MVP (Most Valuable Player) awards in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association). It is now almost next to impossible for that to be surpassed.

And look, Fajardo will always remain a strong MVP contender for as long as he is healthy—physically and mentally. He has them both, otherwise he would not have achieved his seventh heaven.

He is only 33, turning 34 on Nov. 17, 2023. At that age among active athletes, many are still in their peak form. A prime example is Muhammad Ali. Ali was 33 when he scored a 14th-round technical knockout victory over Joe Frazier in that brutal duel dubbed “The Fight of The Century” on Oct. 1, 1975. That “Thrilla in Manila” was held at the Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

What makes Fajardo a perennial MVP threat is his height of 6-foot-10. Seemingly, the one to seriously challenge his throne has yet to be born.

Kai Sotto? Although a towering 7-foot-2, the 21-year-old Sotto, at the rate he’s been performing, wouldn’t stand a chance against Fajardo’s versatility. Domination is Fajardo’s mantra. Sotto has none of that.

Since his first MVP victory in 2014 in only his second season in Asia’s first play-for-pay league, Fajardo could not be stopped, stringing five more up to 2019 for six MVPs in his first seven seasons in the PBA.

Who said the four MVPs each recorded by Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio couldn’t be erased?

Fajardo now considers his seventh MVP as the most memorable. Rightly so.

“This is the most memorable,” the Inquirer’s Jonas Terrado quoted Fajardo as saying. “I’d like to give a shout-out to myself, because I never gave up.”

He can say that again.

His fractured tibia sidelined him for one season in 2020. After that, his mother, Marites, died in 2021. Famously known as a Mama’s Boy, his failure to see her due to the pandemic restrictions broke his heart no end.

A self-confessed barrio boy, he’d always retreat to his hometown Pinamungajan, Cebu, at every opportunity.

“I’ve never been to Boracay or Palawan,” said Fajardo, who does not own a mansion despite a wealth of five lifetimes. “The only place I know is Pinamungajan.”

To the gentle giant, simplicity is beauty.


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