ALEX Cabagnot may have emerged as the surprise leader in the statistical race for the Best Player of the Conference award, but he believes San Miguel teammate June Mar Fajardo should be the favorite in any battle for an individual PBA award.
Fajardo has bagged five Best Player of the Conference awards in his career and Cabagnot believes the 6-10 Cebuano big man should be the frontrunner had he not missed some games in the Commissioner's Cup, either due to injury or Gilas Pilipinas duty.
“Well, I think June Mar has a few games that he didn’t play, you know what I mean? BPC is the ‘June Mar Fajardo Award,’ in my opinion. I’m just glad that we won,” Cabagnot said following a 115-96 win over Phoenix that sealed San Miguel's sixth straight semifinal appearance.
Although he isn't turning his back on any award, Cabagnot said it is not on his list of priorities.
“God willing. Pero I haven’t been in the finals in the second conference, and that’s what we’re striving for, to get to the finals. Hopefully, God willing, we win,” he added.
SMB head coach Leo Austria backed his starting guard for the award.
Cabagnot averaged 15.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.4 steals in the eliminations and continued his fine play in the quarters, scoring 20 points, grabbing eight boards and dishing out six assists in the game against the Fuel Masters.
“Maybe may mga few games siya na mababa yung kanyang scoring pero I think eight or nine games, makikita mo na he's always in the top three in scoring and rebounding and assists. He's very consistent dun sa ginagawa niya,” said Austria.
“I hope na pagdating ng semifinals ay continue niya lang to para wala ng balakid sa kanya dahil I know what BPC means to him. I told him if it is for you, makukuha mo yan but you have to perform well and I think that's one motivation he has right now,” he added.
For Cabagnot, seeing San Miguel players among the best individual performers of each conference is a testament to how they’re performing as a unit.
Aside from Cabagnot, three other Beermen are in the Top 10 with Fajardo at fourth, Marcio Lassiter in seventh place and Chris Ross in seventh.
“Panahon panahon lang I guess. Last conference it was June Mar and I think me and Arwind (Santos) were in there. As long as we’re playing hard and we’re winning, the accolades will favor us more cause it’s a team sport. I’m happy but that’s not the overall goal.”