There is nothing more riveting than watching Jun Mar Fajardo’s dominance in the PBA

By Klyde Manansala | Photo by Tristan Tamayo

It’s been a long time coming.

When Fajardo played his rookie year in 2012, we saw early signs of how the 6’11” giant out of Cebu would someday break the barriers and build a strong case to be the greatest PBA player ever.

At 31, Fajardo was able to push the limits of basketball and work his way onto multiple Best Player of the Conference awards and All-Defensive Team and Mythical Team inclusions. What’s more stunning is that despite all these, he isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. He just keeps getting better and stronger each season.

In his first three years of playing professional basketball, Fajardo immediately bagged two MVP trophies as he clearly became San Miguel Beermen’s franchise cornerstone. To think that he wasn’t even at his prime at the time. Those early accomplishments were simply a prologue of what’s about to come.

“When Fajardo played his rookie year in 2012, we saw early signs of how the 6’11” giant out of Cebu would someday break the barriers and build a strong case to be the greatest PBA player ever

Just yesterday at the PBA Leo Awards, Fajardo made history again, surpassing Alvin Patrimonio and Ramon Fernandez for the most number of MVP plums when he won his fifth straight MVP award—a feat no one has ever pulled off before.

In a league that’s leaning towards an era of three-point shooting and fast pacing, the Kraken continues to show everyone that outside shooting isn’t always the best route to stardom. He became the league’s best in the last decade by simply mastering the ins and outs of his game: timing, rebounding, dishing, decision-making, defending the rim, and many more facets of the game. Put a body against him, no matter who it is, Fajardo can anticipate their moves, attack them, and exploit their weaknesses.

More than his career milestones, it’s his impressive work ethic on the court that translates to the Beermen’s success over the years that makes him the best among the rest. He is trailing uncharted territories and is looking like he won’t wear down anytime soon.

“No one goes their own ways in SMB. Fajardo was never a one-man artillery. They don’t fully rely on him. Instead, they take full advantage of their depth. And Fajardo deeply understands this as he can afford to let his teammates do the heavy scoring

But in the middle of it all, the Beermen isn’t all about Fajardo. If anything, the franchise has done a great job turning Fajardo into a player he’s always destined to become by surrounding him with arguably the best guards in the league who can all provide scoring opportunities for themselves and their teammates.

No one goes their own ways in SMB. Fajardo was never a one-man artillery. They don’t fully rely on him. Instead, they take full advantage of their depth. And Fajardo deeply understands this as he can afford to let his teammates do the heavy scoring.

By having a team basketball mindset, the Beermen have developed a championship-pedigree reputation in the past years, more commonly known as a “superteam” today, while simultaneously allowing Fajardo to turn into an unstoppable force. The Beermen have built a system that brings out the best in a player like Fajardo. Though his style of play isn’t in line with the trends, he still finds his ways to become effective for the team.

“He is the MVP because he does things, no matter how big or little, with the team’s best interest in mind. And he’s always been like that from the very start, sublimating his ego and pride for the better of the Beermen

Fajardo averaged 20.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season. But he isn’t an MVP just because he produces worthy numbers. He is the MVP because he does things, no matter how big or little, with the team’s best interest in mind. And he’s always been like that from the very start, sublimating his ego and pride for the better of the Beermen. After all, the Beermen fully understand that they need Fajardo just as much as he needs them. It was never a one-way street—and that’s why they’re winners.