BACK at full strength after being sidelined by a shin injury in 2020, six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo is reasserting his dominant ways in the PBA.

Mr. Fajardo, whose strong performances helped San Miguel Beer get top seeding in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals, took the front seat in the race for the Best Player of the Conference plum through the end of eliminations.

The 6-foot-10 Fajardo amassed a leading 43.2 statistical points (SPs) built around averages of 18.5 points, a league-best 13.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, one steal and 1.6 blocks to make a strong bid for a record-extending ninth BPC.

Mr. Fajardo paced teammate CJ Perez, who piled up 39.5 SPs spiked by 17.5 markers, 7.6 boards, 5.9 dimes and 2.5 steals per game, and Season 47 MVP Scottie Thompson of Ginebra, who carded 37.9 on impressive 15.3-point, 9.6-rebound, 6.1-assist and 1.3-steal statlines.

Thompson’s fellow Ginebra star, Japeth Aguilar (16.7 ppg, 8.4 rpg and a league-leading 2.5 bpg) ranked fourth with 34.2 SPs followed by Magnolia guard Jio Jalalon (13.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg, tournament-best 6.9 apg, and 2.5 spg) at No. 5 with 34.1 SPs.

Just outside the Top 5 were Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger (33.3), NorthPort duo Robert Bolick (32.63) and Jamie Malonzo (32.60), NLEX’ Calvin Oftana (32.1) and TNT’s RR Pogoy (31.2).

They were followed by  Meralco’s Chris Newsome (31.1), SMB’s Jerico Cruz (30.6), Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang (30.5), Phoenix’ Jason Perkins (29.2) and Meralco’s Aaron Black (29.1), who occupied 11th to 15th spots.

Ato Ular, Blackwater’s rookie revelation and vital cog in the Bossing’s turnaround into a quarterfinal team, ranked 20th overall with 27.2 SPs.

Mr. Ular, who was selected in the second round of the draft, averaged 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds to show the way among the league freshmen.

Trailing him in the Rookie of the Year derby were Converge’s Justine Arana (22.1) and Jeo Ambohot (19.10), NorthPort’s JM Calma (19.09) and Phoenix’s Tyler Tio (18.2). — Olmin Leyba