June Mar Fajardo rewrote history books for the second straight year by bagging his record sixth straight Most Valuable Player plum at the 44th PBA Season Leo Awards on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The San Miguel star played all 61 games in a dominant 44th season and averaged 18.9 points on 53.3 percent shooting, 13.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.5 blocks to help the Beermen nab two titles in the first two conferences and come close to a Grand Slam-clinching third.
Fajardo, who cant fully apply pressure on the right shin he injured, was in high spirits as he rolled into the Coliseum floor on an electric mobility scooter provided by San Miguel honcho Ramon S. Ang to aid his movement.
"I'm having some difficulty, but I'm still feeling positive. I know God has a plan for me, for my family," he told reporters in Filipino. "It's saddening, but I'm still going to be able to return."
"It was very difficult at first because every time I tried to sleep, I'd get flashbacks of what happened. It was terrible and really painful. But I just try to entertain myself and not think about it. I know Ill get past this. No matter how bad our days would go, it's just going to last for 24 hours. It will pass. It's just a bad day, not a bad life."
Sunday night's proceedings were also the first time Fajardo was able to mingle with most of his teammates, who are set to embark on an uphill journey without him towards a sixth straight title in the Philippine Cup.
"Nothing is impossible. Our team is still strong and our bench is dee. As long as we play well and as a team, we can do it. I know we can reach the playoffs, and then we'll work it from there," he said. I'm just sad I'm not on the court but I'm happy I saw them again. I haven't seen them in a month. I'm happy and I'm here to support all of them."
Fajardo already owned the distinction of having the most MVPs ever after surpassing Alvin Patrimonio and Ramon Fernandez with his fifth last season, also set a new record for the most consecutive MVP awards by any player in league history. Despite this, he still deferred the possibility of being tagged as the greatest player of all time.
"For me, MVPs aren't the basis of being the greatest. There have been more before me who have won more titles. They should be the one hailed as the greatest. I'm just happy I'm included in that conversation," he said.
Meanwhile, CJ Perez was hailed as the Rookie of the Year for his efforts with Columbian last year.
The Dyip failed to make the playoffs in any of the three conferences, but that did not diminish Perez's case. The 26-year-old was the first rookie to emerge as the scoring champion since Eric Menk in 1999, tallying 20.8 points on 44.7 percent shooting, 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals in 33 games.
Perez edged out NorthPort's Robert Bolick, Rain or Shine's Javee Mocon, Alaska's Abu Tratter and TNT's Ray Parks for the award.
Fajardo and Perez also led the Mythical First Team composed of NorthPort's Christian Standhardinger and Sean Anthony, and TNT's Jayson Castro.
Anthony and Fajardo made the All-Defensive team, too, alongside San Miguel's Chris Ross, TNT's Poy Erram and Barangay Ginebra's Scottie Thompson.
Named to the second Mythical Team are TNT's Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, Ginebra's Aguilar and Stanley Pringle, and Magnolia's Ian Sangalang.
Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine took home his third straight Sportsmanship Award, tying the most ever, while Mo Tautuaa of San Miguel was feted with the Most Improved Player citation after a strong year with the Beermen and with NorthPort.