MANILA, Philippines (The Philippine Star) – Alaska Milk super rookie Calvin Abueva, Petron Blaze do-it-all forward Arwind Santos and FIBA Asia Mythical Five member Jayson Castro are in a neck-and-neck fight for the season MVP award with one short conference to go in the 38th PBA season.
Castro is already seeded as an official MVP candidate being the Philippine Cup BPC (Best Player of the Conference) winner while Abueva and Santos are making a strong case for themselves being the leaders of the stats race through the first two conferences.
Ginebra’s LA Tenorio is another player already seeded as MVP candidate being the BPC winner in the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup.
Tenorio, however, is way off the stats leaders through the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup.
Bunched closely on top are Abueva, Santos and Castro who average 21.4, 21.0 and 20.0 statistical points (SPs) a game.
Globalport’s Sol Mercado (19.4) and Talk n Text’s Ranidel de Ocampo (19.1) round up the Magic Five with Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa (18.9), and Alaska’s Jayvee Casio (18.2) right behind them at sixth and seventh, respectively.
At the end of the stats race, a vital part that comes to play is the balloting among the players, covering media and league officials.
Castro could be the sentimental favorite being among the biggest heroes in Gilas Pilipinas’ successful run in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship.
He emerged among the best performers in the tourney, making the Mythical Five selection with MVP winner Hamed Haddadi of Iran, Iranian power forward Oshin Sahakian, Korean gunner Kim Mingoo and Taiwan hotshot Li Chih Chieh.
Abueva and Santos are banking on the stats side of the MVP derby.
Santos topped the stats race in the Philippine Cup while Abueva bested all comers in the Commissioner’s Cup.
The 6-foot-4 Petron star has been a perennial MVP contender while Abueva is positioning himself for a rare feat of winning both the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards.
Benjie Paras is the lone man who registered this exceptional achievement in the local pro league, winning both titles back in 1989.
Ten years later, he snared another MVP award, thus, joining Ramon Fernandez, Bogs Adornado, Abet Guidaben and Alvin Patrimonio in an elite circle of PBA players with more than one MVP citation.
Also joining the cast later were Danny Ildefonso, Willie Miller and James Yap.
Abueva, the season’s No. 2 draft selection, is a cinch for the Rookie of the Year award.
Far second behind Abueva in the fight for the Best Freshman award is top draft pick Junmar Fajardo (16.3). Next are Cliff Hodge of Meralco (15.1), Ginebra’s Chris Ellis (13.5), and Vic Manuel also of Meralco (10.2).