ALASKA super freshman Calvin Abueva has made a strong case for a rare feat of winning both the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards as he leads the players’ statistical race with one short conference to go in the 38th season of the PBA.
So far the 24-year-old has amassed a combined 21.4 statistical points (sps) through the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup, respectively. He bolstered his stocks during the mid-season, import-laden conference when the Aces swept the Barangay Ginebra Kings in three games to win the championship.
Benjie Paras is the only man in the annals of Asia’s first ever pro league to make the exceptional achievement of winning both the MVP and Rookie of the Year plums in a single season back in 1989.
Abueva, a former NCAA MVP and Alaska’s No. 2 pick overall in last year’s Draft, is likewise leading the race for the Rookie of the Year award over top overall pick June Mar Fajardo of Petron.
Curiously, Abueva had been in the running for the Best Player of the Conference award in the league's first two conferences, as well as the Finals MVP honor during Alaska's title run in the Commissioner's Cup, but failed to command the votes each time.
Votes from mediamen and officials also comprise a major part of the season MVP balloting, and the balloting remains the biggest hurdle to Abueva's shot at league history.
Another Petron player in Arwind Santos is running second behind Abueva in the chase for the MVP title. A consistent MVP contender since turning pro in 2006, the former Far Eastern University King Tamaraw compiled an average 21.0 sps.
Two Talk `N Text players, meanwhile, are also in contention for the league’s highest individual award. Jayson Castro, a member of the Mythical Team during the recent 27th Fiba-Asia Championship, ranks at No. 3 with 20.0 sps, while teammate Ranidel de Ocampo comes in at fifth spot with 19.1 sps.
Sol Mercado of Globalport completes the top five at No. 4 with 19.4 sps.
Reigning MVP Mark Caguioa of Barangay Ginebra is still in the fight at No. 6 with 19.1 sps. as he bids to become the first back-to-back winner since Danny Ildefonso pulled off the feat in 2000 and 2001.
Ginebra teammate LA Tenorio is at No. 8 with 18.2 sps., sandwiched by two Alaska players in JV Casio at seventh (18.8) and Cyrus Baguio at ninth (18.1).
Marc Pingris is in 10th place with 17.69 sps. and is the lone San Mig Coffee player to break into the Top 10.
Aside from Abueva and Fajardo, also in the running for the once-in-a-lifetime honor given to rookie players are Cliff Hodge of Meralco (15.1), Ginebra’s Chris Ellis (13.5), and Vic Manuel also of Meralco (10.2).