Fajardo leads race for Best Player of the Conference

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JUNE MAR FAJARDO towers over rivals. — THE PHILIPPINE STAR/RUSSEL PALMA

SAN MIGUEL Beer (SMB) stalwart June Mar Fajardo kept pole position in the race for the PBA Philippine Cup’s Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award at the end of the quarterfinal phase with teammate CJ Perez on his tail.

Mr. Fajardo, who has been enjoying a return-to-from after getting sidelined by a shin injury in 2020, stayed ahead of the field with 42.7 statistical points while Mr. Perez maintained No. 2 spot with 39.7 SPs.

The 6-foot-10 Mr. Fajardo is making a strong case for his ninth BPC plum with eye-popping averages of 17.9 points, league-best 13.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.1 steal and 1.5 block.

Mr. Perez, for his part, posted impressive stat lines of 17.5 markers, 7.4 boards, 6.0 dimes, and 2.4 steals.

The SMB duo looms as the strongest bets for the coveted award with their closest rivals Scottie Thompson (37.5) Japeth Aguilar (33.1) and Christian Standhardinger (32.8) of Barangay Ginebra having played their last games of the tournament already.

After the Gin Kings troika were Robert Bolick (32.63) and Jamie Malonzo (32.60) both from NorthPort, a team that didn’t make it past the elims.

Meralco’s Chris Newsome (32.5) and Magnolia’s Jio Jalalon, whose teams are still playing in the semifinals, shared eighth and ninth while Calvin Oftana of losing quarterfinalist NLEX (32.4) rounded out the Top 10.

Meanwhile, Blackwater’s Ato Ular (21.1 SPs) continued to show the way among rookies with Converge’s Justin Arana (21.5), NorthPort’s JM Calma (19.1), Phoenix’ Tyler Tio (18.2) and Converge’s Jio Ambohot (17.9) trailing him. — Olmin Leyba

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