San Miguel Beermen's June Mar Fajardo.

San Miguel Beermen’s June Mar Fajardo. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

A conference to remember is obviously not enough for CJ Perez to be considered a cinch for the biggest individual award left to be won at this point of the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) 48th season.

That’s because his San Miguel Beer teammate June Mar Fajardo is suddenly in contention for the Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy, the coveted individual plum the gentle giant has unprecedentedly won seven times.

Ineligible to cop the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award that Perez claimed owing to a lack of games, Fajardo suddenly jumped into the lead of the MVP derby at the end of the recent Commissioner’s Cup, which the Beermen ruled, as Perez sits in third spot behind Barangay Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger.

Fajardo compiled an average of 40.9 Statistical Points based on the tally released by the league on Tuesday, putting him in on top of the race following a conference that saw San Miguel take down Magnolia in six games for the franchise’s 29th crown.

“This is one of the hardest championships we’ve had because it’s hard to win in a conference with imports,” Fajardo said after a campaign that saw him miss six games in the eliminations due to a fractured left hand.

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That injury left Fajardo out of the running for the BPC as league rules state that players must appear in at least 70 percent of the games after the semifinals. Fajardo played just 60 percent of the games in that duration, or nine of the Beermen’s 15.

After playing all six games of the Finals, thus ending the conference playing 15 of San Miguel’s 21 games for a 71-percent appearance, Fajardo is now in the mix.

That relegated Standhardinger to second with 35.7 Statistical Points, and Perez third with 35.4.

Perez was also named the Finals MVP by the PBA Press Corps, and that, coupled with the BPC, could come in handy when voting for the MVP comes.

If the season ended today, those awards—and his role in the title-clinching sixth game against the Hotshots—could weigh heavily when the media and players cast their ballots. INQ

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