This past Sunday, after a brief postponement to avoid the then-serious ravages of the 2019 novel coronavirus/COVID-19, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) finally started their 2020 season. But before the first game of the first conference would be kicked off, the league first has to look back to the season that came before, and honor the achievers who have proven themselves the best of the best. These accolades are encapsulated in the Leo Awards, with the “Best Picture” Leo trophy being awarded to the previous season’s Most Valuable Player. And even though he is currently sidelined, June Mar Fajardo will not go absent for this.
According to CNN Philippines, San Miguel Beermen primary Center June Mar Fajardo was awarded the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2019 PBA season, during the Leo Awards that was part of the 2020 season opening ceremony at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on March 8. The highest Leo Award citation was given to Fajardo for helping his fellow Beermen to secure two out of the three Conference Championships of last year’s season, namely the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cups. The former was won by San Miguel in a streak for the fifth time in a row.
Statistics-wise, June Mar’s total player score for the 2019 season was 3,140 points, gathered from playing stats and votes, from the league, the media, and Fajardo’s fellow PBA players. All these feats contributed to the Cebuano basketball giant earning his sixth MVP award. On a more sobering note however, this achievement by June Mar could end up being only a balm to his disappointment at not being able to play with the Beermen for the Philippine Cup. He had been injured in the right tibia during practice early in February, and medical experts fear that he might sit out the whole season to ensure recovery.
As for the rest of the Leo Awardees from the 2019 PBA season, Gabe Norwood (Rain or Shine) was accorded the Samboy Lim Sportsmanship Award; CJ Perez (Columbian) was named Rookie of the Year; and Most Improved Player went to June Mar Fajardo’s teammate Mo Tautuaa. For the Leo lineups, first Mythical Team was comprised of Perez, Fajardo, Jayson Castro (TNT), Christian Standhardinger (NorthPort), and Sean Anthony (NorthPort). Second Mythical teammates are: Stanley Pringle and Japeth Aguilar (Ginebra), Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy (TNT), and Ian Sangalang (Magnolia). Lastly, the All-Defensive Team was formed by Fajardo and Chris Ross (San Miguel), Perez, Anthony and Aguilar.
While the San Miguel Beermen are playing the PBA 2020 Philippine Cup without June Mar, they did show promise to soldier on in the opening game this past Sunday by beating the Magnolia Hotshots 94-78.
Image courtesy of Panay News