EVEN though Chris Banchero is hampered by injury, San Miguel coach Leo Austria still thinks the highly-touted guard deserves to win the season’s MVP award of the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Austria said the torn tendon in Banchero’s right quadriceps which he incurred midway through the tournament should not keep him from becoming the second straight Beermen to win the MVP plum of the fledgling regional league after Leo Avenido won the coveted award last year.
“I think deserving siya,” said Austria of Banchero. “Seven times na Best Player of the Game siya.”
Banchero is the ABL’s top scorer among local players, averaging 16.44 points in 16 games during the regular season.
He also posted averages of 4.19 assists and 2.19 steals per game as the Beermen assured themselves of the No. 1 seeding with an 18-3 win-loss slate ahead of their final match of the season against the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
The ABL MVP is determined through votes of the coaches, and Austria believes Banchero will get the nod of his colleagues.
And while he had already missed several games following a collision with Moala Tautuaa of the Dragons, Austria said Banchero was instrumental in the Beermen’s winning run that now stands at 15.
“Big factor siya sa run namin. Noong nawala siya, mabuti na lang malaki na ang puhunan namin,” said the San Miguel coach.
Austria also said because of Banchero, the rest of the Beermen are also playing well in most of their games.
“Maganda ‘yung nangyayari sa amin kasi kahit siya ang best player, maganda ang nilalaro ng import at ‘yung ibang mga players,” said Austria.
In Banchero’s absence, other local players had stepped up in Asi Taulava, Val Acuna, Hans Thiele, and RJ Rizada, and even back-up point guards Jeric Fortuna and Paolo Hubalde.
“They are trying to push ‘yung mga sarili nila,” said Austria.