JUNE Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter are rightfully taking the spotlight in what appears to be the tightest PBA MVP race in league history.
But with a lot more basketball action left in the season, much remains to be seen as other contenders are still within striking distance and have in fact made great gains in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.
SMB’s Fajardo tops all players with an accumulated average statistical points (SPs) of 27.52 through the end of the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals, with Ginebra’s Slaughter just 0.01 SPs behind.
However, this is by no means a two-man race for the MVP award, especially with all the movement shaking up the leaderboard.
Even Tropang TNT forward Troy Rosario’s case for the Rookie of the Year award is in peril, with rival newbies making waves in the midseason tournament.
Here are the biggest gainers and losers in the PBA’s Top 25 players list based on SPs entering the Commissioner’s Cup semis.
Philippine Cup SPs: 31, rank 11
Commissioner’s Cup SPs: 33.1, rank 2
Current accumulated rank: 5th (22.4 SPs)
Abueva has been on #beastmode the entire Commissioner’s Cup for the Alaska Aces, increasing his output in every statistical category except for rebounds from his Philippine Cup averages. With 17.67 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.67 steals per game, Abueva has jumped up six spots, tied for the biggest leap with GlobalPort’s Terrence Romeo, from the 11th best player in the Philippine Cup to fifth in the current tally. He’s even considered the strongest bet to win Best Player of the Conference this Commissioner’s Cup with his rivals in the Top 5 all out of contention in the tournament.
Philippine Cup SPs: 32.2, rank 10
Commissioner’s Cup SPs: 33, rank 3
Current accumulated rank: 4th (22.8 SPs)
Like Abueva, Romeo shot his way up the leaderboard by six spots, from 10th to 4th, after a stellar performance in the Commissioner’s Cup. He’s the top local scorer in the conference, averaging 26.4 points per game, and on pace to win the scoring championship this season. However, what hurts Romeo’s case for the MVP is the failure of his team to go on a deep playoff run. Hopefully, the Batang Pier can turn things around in the Governor’s Cup to aid Romeo’s cause for the top individual honor in the league.
Biggest Winner in the Commissioner’s Cup
Philippine Cup SPs: 19.6, rank 28
Commissioner’s Cup SPs: 27.2, rank 10
Current accumulated rank: 26th (16 SPs)
Speaking of turning things around, Meralco Bolts has made a full 180-degree turn from last place in the Philippine Cup to semifinalist in the Commissioner’s Cup. The success can be pinned on improved chemistry, or a hulking import in Arinze Onuaku, or even better play from stalwarts like Jared Dillinger, Cliff Hodge, Jimmy Alapag, and Reynel Hugnatan. But the biggest surprise is rookie Chris Newsome. Aside from being the second best scorer of the Bolts behind Onuaku, Newsome also puts his athleticism in full display on both ends of the floor, and has made the largest leap among all players, landing on the 10th spot in the midseason tournament rankings coming from 28th place in the Philippine Cup. He’s now just 0.58 SPs behind Rosario in the ROY race.
Philippine Cup SPs: 27.4, rank 15
Commissioner’s Cup SPs: 18.8, rank 28
Current accumulated rank: 22nd (16.6 SPs)
Rosario hit the rookie wall hard after a strong Philippine Cup showing. It might be because of his adjustment from power forward to the wing, but Rosario struggled mighty early on as he averaged only 9.2 points and 3.6 rebounds in the eliminations. It’s a big drop from putting in 15.6 markers and 6.7 boards a game in the Philippine Cup. Thus, he slipped the most among all players, going down seven spots from 15th in the first conference to 22nd in the current accumulated standings. Still, Rosario showed promise in the playoffs despite TNT falling to the Aces in the quarters. It could serve as the much-needed momentum he needs to push forward in the next conference.
Philippine Cup SPs: 35.2, rank 5
Commissioner’s Cup SPs: 22.6, rank 23
Current accumulated rank: 9th (20.9 SPs)
Wilson turned a lot of heads with his breakthrough performance in the Philippine Cup, averaging 17.5 points and 12.25 rebounds and holding the fifth spot in the Top 25 rankings at the time. But the 36-year-old banger crashed hard after putting up 10.7 points and seven rebounds in the import-laden conference. Those are decent numbers for the veteran but not good enough as he dropped a whopping 18 spots to No. 23 in the midseason tournament. He still figures in the Top 10 at the moment in the accumulated standings but he’ll need to bounce back strong in the Governor’s Cup so he doesn’t waste his impressive start to what’s shaping up as the best season of his 12-year career.