PETRON'S hard-working forward Arwind Santos has won almost every individual award in the PBA, except the coveted Most Valuable Player plum which has eluded him for the last five seasons.
On Friday, Santos is keeping his fingers crossed as he eyes the league's highest individual award when the league honors the most outstanding performers for the 38th Season in the PBA Annual Leo Awards at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The awarding ceremony begins at 6 p.m., preceding Game Four of the Governors Cup Finals between Santos' squad Petron and San Mig Coffee.
The 6-4 Santos, the 2011 Governors' Cup Finals MVP, has said time and time again that the team’s goal is far more important than individual achievements.
But he’s also candid enough to say he’s been praying for a league MVP trophy since it's a rare honor to win one considering the amount of talent in the pro league.
“Siyempre, magandang balita iyan (being an MVP candidate). Nandiyan na naman tayo na nangyari na rin naman dati, pero kasama naman iyan sa dasal ko, na makatulong sa team para mag-champion and kung ipagkaloob ng Diyos eh makuha natin iyan (win the MVP award),” Santos said.
Standing in the way of the high-leaping Santos are two of the league’s premiere guards - Barangay Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, the Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference and Talk ’N Text’s Jason Castro, the Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference.
Santos, Tenorio and Castro, all seeking their first MVP trophy, emerged as the final candidates for this season’s MVP award.
Over the last five seasons, Santos has been a Mythical First Team member but has always come short of bagging the coveted individual hardware after losing to Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa (2012), TNT’s Jimmy Alapag (2011), James Yap of San Mig Coffee (2010), Ginebra’s Jayjay Helterbrand (2009) and Kelly Williams when he was still with the now-defunct Sta. Lucia Realty (2008).
This season figures to be different after Santos topped the season’s Statistical Points average with 30.3 SPs, while Tenorio and Castro, both Gilas Pilipinas teammates, have 28.1 SPs and 26.8 SPs, respectively.
The SP of a player will account for 40 percent, while the remaining 60 percent will come from votes, which will be divided into three parts – media 30 percent, fellow PBA players 25 percent and the Commissioner’s Office five percent.
The three players are also automatic candidates for the Mythical Teams (First and Second).
Aside from Tenorio and Castro, candidates for the Mythical team at the guard spots are Caguioa, Alaska’s Cyrus Baguio and JV Casio, Petron’s Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter, Meralco’s Mike Cortez, Globalport’s Sol Mercado and TNT’s Larry Fonacier.
At the forward/center positions, joining Santos are rookie teammate June Mar Fajardo, rookies’ Cliff Hodge of Meralco and Calvin Abueva of Alaska, Air21’s sweet-shooting forward KG Canaleta, TNT’s Ranidel de Ocampo, Yap, Marc Pingris and Joe Devance of San Mig as well as Alaska’s Sonny Thoss, the Commissioner’s Cup Finals MVP.
Fajardo, who has made giant strides in the season-ending Governors Cup, will vie for the Rookie of the Year award with Abueva as his chief rival. The flamboyant Abueva leads the ROY statistical race with 28.0 SPs, followed by Fajardo with 25.5 SPs.
The other candidates for the ROY award are Hodge (22.6 SPs), Ginebra’s Chris Ellis (18.6 SPs) and Air21’s Vic Manuel (15.5 SPs).
On the other hand, Canaleta, Mercado, Rain or Shine’s Jervy Cruz and Meralco’s Reynel Hugnatan are vying for the Most Improved Award honors, while candidates for the Sportsmanship Award are Casio, Lassiter, San Mig’s PJ Simon, Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood, and Dondon Hontiveros of Alaska.
Meantime, the All-Defensive Team nominees are guards Castro, Lassiter, Norwood, San Mig’s Mark Barroca, TNT’s Ryan Reyes, Globalport’s Chris Ross and Rain or Shine’s Jireh Ibanes, and forward/center Abueva, Fajardo, Pingris, Santos, Thoss, Rain or Shine’s Beau Belga, and San Mig’s Rafi Reavis.