ALASKA super rookie Calvin Abueva is making a strong case for the Rookie of the Year award and put himself in position to challenge for the Best Player of the Conference title after taking second spot in the statistical points race at the end of the PBA Philippine Cup’s 14-game elimination round.
The Balibago, Pampanga-born Abueva tallied 32.7 statistical points, behind only the 6-foot-3 Petron Blaze forward and fellow Capampangan Arwind Santos, who had 35.
Amazingly, the 6’1” Abueva, this year’s No. 2 rookie pick overall, managed to make the strong run this early despite playing just 10 games this conference. Abueva had to finish his college playing career with San Sebastian College first in the recent NCAA tournament.
The 24-year-old one-time NCAA MVP is just one of two players to average in double-double figures at the end of the eliminations after submitting 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest.
Abueva, who is third in the league in rebounds, has a chance to become the first rookie to win a best player award right in his first tournament since Eric Menk achieved the feat in the 1999 All-Filipino Cup.
On the other hand, Santos punched in a league-best 17.7 points and 12.1 rebounds in 14 games. The former FEU King Tamaraw also led the league with the most double-doubles this conference with 11, including a near-triple-double of 29 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists in a 110-98 victory over Globalport on Oct. 26.
Abueva, meantime, registered five double-doubles this conference, including a monstrous 20-point, 18-rebound performance in leading the Aces to an 88-85 victory over the Meralco Bolts on Nov. 28.
Talk ’N Text’s cat-quick guard Jayson Castro is running third in the statistical race with 31.9 points, while Meralco top playmaker Solomon Mercado (31.1) and another Tropang Texter forward Kelly Williams (29.3) are in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rounding out the top 10 are Rain or Shine’s Jeff Chan (28.8), San Mig Coffee’s James Yap (28.7) Talk ‘N Text teammates Ranidel de Ocampo (28.64) and Larry Fonacier (28.57), and Alaska’s Cyrus Baguio and Barangay Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa who are tied at 10th spot with 28.4.