How does June Mar Fajardo keep his championship hunger?

MANILA, Philippines – June Mar Fajardo may be the most successful PBA player of his generation, but the San Miguel stalwart approaches the game as if he has a lot more to prove.

The Cebuano giant just added two glitzy trophies to his ever-growing collection – another championship after leading San Miguel to a historic fifth straight Philippine Cup title and the Finals MVP award to boot. 

So how does the reigning five-time MVP, eight-time Best Player of the Conference winner and seven-time champion keep his eyes on the prize? His answer: By simply staying grounded. 

"Lagi ko lang sinasabi sa sarili ko, 'yung mga awards ko, 'yung mga napanalunan ko, chine-cherish ko pero kini-keep ko lang sa puso ko, 'di ko pinapaabot sa utak ko," he told reporters. 

(All the awards I've won, I cherish them and I keep them in my heart but I don't let them get into my head.) 

"Sa isip ko, never pa ako nanalo ng championship, never pa ako nanalo ng MVP, never pa ako nanalo ng BPC. 'Yun 'yung nagmo-motivate sa 'kin maglaro, na galingan ko pa kasi 'di pa ako nanalo ng mga awards." 

(In my mind, I've never won a championship, I've never won an MVP and I've never won a BPC. That's what motivates me when I play, that I need to show up because I haven't won a single award.) 

Fajardo even ended the All-Filipino conference carving his place in PBA history by breaking the league's longest-standing record in a gripping 72-71 win over Magnolia in the winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday, May 15. 

He cleaned the glass for a whopping 31 boards to shatter the former all-time mark of 29 set by Marcelo Simbulan in the inaugural 1975 season for most rebounds in a single game by a local. 

But even after his latest feat, Fajardo downplayed it to simply doing his role. 

"Basta iniisip ko kunin ko 'yung rebounds. Sayang kasi 'yung opportunity kasi 'di na babalik 'yun e. Kailan pa makakabalik na limang sunod na championship? So ayun, inisip ko na ito na," he said. 

(I just wanted to get all the rebounds. I didn't want to waste the opportunity because I couldn't bring it back. When will we have a chance to win 5 straight championships? So I told myself this is the time.) 

"Nasa posisyon kami na puwedeng ipanalo 'yung game, so push na namin 'yung sarili namin. Buti nakuha namin 'yung panalo. Main trabaho ko naman kasi 'yung rebound eh, so buti nakuha ko 'yung mga rebounds." 

(We were in the position to win the game, so we pushed ourselves to the limit. Fortunately, we were able to win. My main job is to get the rebounds, and luckily, I got them.) 

Marvelling at how his career turned out, Fajardo paid tribute to the Beermen. 

"Thankful ako na naging part ako ng team na ito, sa organization na ito. Sobrang blessed ko talaga. 'Di ko ine-expect na ganito maabot ko." 

(I'm thankful that I'm a part of this and this organization. I'm really blessed. I didn't expect that I would come to this point.) – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.

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