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Fajardo takes third MVP award, becomes first winner of newly-renamed "Samboy Lim Award"

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Junemar Fajardo made history on Friday night as he became the first player to bag the PBA MVP award for three consecutive years.

Fajardo was once again named the league's top individual performer during the Leo Awards at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The San Miguel center simply dominated the MVP race, getting the nod of most of the media people, the players, and the top league officials apart from a huge lead in the statistical points.

Fajardo got a total of 3,079 points, which was more than enough to beat Alaska's energetic star Calvin Abueva and TNT's flashy guard Jayson Castro for the MVP plum.

Fajardo also became the fourth player to win the said award thrice in his career, equaling Bogs Adornado's three-MVP haul and now just behind Alvin Patrimonio and Mon Fernandez, who each had four.

Fajardo, Abueva, and Castro headlined the Mythical First Team with GlobalPort's Terrence Romeo and San Miguel's Arwind Santos being the other members.

Fajardo also became the inaugural winner of the newly-renamed "Samboy Lim Award".

Formerly known as the Sportsmanship Award, the said plum was renamed after the former San Miguel star as part of paying tribute to his contributions to the game and full support to his continuous recovery, and it was fitting that a fellow Beerman won the new sportsmanship plum.

Fajardo garnered a total of 4,600 points, which was enough for him to take home the "Samboy Lim Award".

On the other hand, NLEX's Asi Taulava once again showed why age doesn't matter, making the Mythical Second Team along with teammate Sean Anthony, San Miguel's Alex Cabagnot, and Ginebra's LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar.

Aguilar headlined the All-Defensive Team that also comprises of Star's Marc Pingris, Rain Or Shine's Gabe Norwood, San Miguel's Chris Ross, and Alaska's Ping Exciminiano.

Meanwhile, Meralco's Chris Newsome edged TNT's Troy Rosario, Blackwater's Arth Dela Cruz, and Ginebra's Scottie Thompson for the Rookie of the Year award.

Newsome got a total of 2,511 points after taking note of the stats and the votes from the media, the players, and the PBA, which was more than the points Rosario, Dela Cruz, and Thompson got.

Also, Jericho Cruz was feted for his explosive 2016 season by winning the Most Improved Player award.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno