PBA Season 45 will feel very different from what fans are used to.
Besides playing inside a bubble in Clark, Pampanga without any audience, the man who dominated the league for the last six years is absent.
June Mar Fajardo won’t be around for San Miguel. And with that a new Most Valuable Player will be hailed for Season 45.
But who does the gentle giant from Compostela, Cebu think will win this season’s top individual plum? He shared his thoughts on 2OT last month.
At the top of his mind are three fixtures in the MVP race: Christian Standhardinger, Jayson Castro, and Japeth Aguilar.
The Fil-German was able to come out of his shell after his trade to Northport back on October 14, 2019.
During his first conference with the Batang Pier, he averaged 22.7 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game en route to copping the Governors’ Cup Best Player of the Conference award.
Meanwhile, Castro will always be in the race and has been runner-up to Fajardo for the majority of the last six years. Last season, Asia’s best point guard was sixth in the Statistical Points race.
Then there’s Aguilar, whom many expect to take the lead for Ginebra with Greg Slaughter out. The 6-foot-9 athletic big man was crowned the Finals MVP during Ginebra’s conquest of the Governors’ Cup. He came in seventh in the Season 44 MVP race.
Fajardo’s last two picks came in as a surprise, with one being Chris Newsome.
For the last five years, Newsome has been the silent operator for Meralco. But he has never garnered an individual honor after his rookie year.
Then there’s CJ Perez, for whom Fajardo had high praise.
“CJ, maganda ‘yung nilaro niya last conference e. Magaling siya. Hindi siya natatakot mag-take over.”
Despite being a rookie last season, the 6-foot-1 utility guard was unperturbed, placing second in the MVP race with 33.47 SPs. Terra Firma’s ace ended up being on the Mythical Team while winning the Rookie of the Year awards — a feat last achieved by Calvin Abueva.
Come October 11, all the stars will come out firing as the MVP race has become a free-for-all.