CALVIN Abueva finds himself crowded by provincemate and college teammate Ian Sangalang in the race for the PBA Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference award.
Abueva retained the top spot in the BPC standings at the end of the semifinals with a 34.2 SPs total, but is under threat by the streaking Sangalang, whose been a steady force in the Hotshots' return trip to the all-Filipino finals.
Sangalang has climbed to No. 3 with 33.0 SPs, just behind second-running Robert Bolick of NorthPort.
Bolick is the man closest to Abueva with 33.7 SPs, but the Batang Pier's failure to go deep in the playoffs after being ousted by San Miguel in the quarterfinals, hurt Bolick's chances at the conference's top individual award. The NorthPort guard ended his stint with a 17.2-point, 6.7-rebound, and 7.8-assist tally.
No doubt, Abueva and Sangalang, the two remaining active member of the so-called Pinatubo Trio,' have been doing a lot of damage in the middle for Magnolia, which ousted second seed Meralco in the semis to make the Philippine Cup finals for the third time in four seasons.
The 'Beast' is averaging a double-double in his first season with the Hotshots at 15.2 points and 10.0 rebounds, while also adding 2.8 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.1 block shots, while Sangalang's numbers are at 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists.
Together, the two are eyeing their first championship as frontcourt partners in the pro league after previously winning titles in the NCAA with San Sebastian and NLEX in the PBA D-League.
Erstwhile No. 2 rookie Mikey Williams fell to fourth spot with 32.0 SPs as he struggled early in TnT Tropang Giga's series with San Miguel in his first semifinal appearance in the pro league.
The no. 4 overall selection in the last draft averaged 16.2 points, 4.7 points, and 4.4 assists, as he managed to pick up his game late in the series, including the winner-take-all Game 7 which TnT won, 97-79. Williams had 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in the series-clinching victory.
Rounding out the Top 5 candidates for the BPC award is San Miguel big man June Mar Fajardo.
The six-time MVP normed a double-double of 13.5 points and 10.8 rebounds to climb up in the race with a 31.8 sps total.
We are now on Quento! Download the app to enjoy more articles and videos from SPIN.ph and other Summit Media websites.