Cebu’s Fajardo leads tight PBA Best Player of the Conference race
June Mar Fajardo, the most dominant big man the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has ever seen, is again on track to winning another best player of the conference (BPC) race, though this Governors’ Cup derby could be close with all the front-runners out of the running for the title.
The San Miguel Beer cornerstone, who is also the favorite to win a sixth straight season Most Valuable Player award, made his exit with San Miguel Beer in the quarterfinals with a statistical points average of 38.8, with hands-down Rookie of the Year CJ Perez of Columbian turning in 37.2 SPs to finish a very close second.
The 6-foot-11 Fajardo, from Pinamungajan, Cebu, had averages of 19.3 points, 14.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 blocks in the season-ending tournament before getting the boot in the quarterfinals.
NorthPort’s new star and franchise player, former Fajardo backup at San Miguel Christian Standhardinger, tallied 35.1 SPs and could have a huge influence in the voting since the Batang Pier went deeper in the playoffs after exiting in the Final Four against Barangay Ginebra.
While the Beermen were shown the door in the quarterfinals, Perez’s Dyip failed to make it past the eliminations, and that has weighed heavily in voting in the past.
NLEX’s Kiefer Ravena, who only returned to PBA duty during the Governors’ Cup following a Fiba ban, had 34.5 and finished at fourth place, with TNT playmaker Jayson Castro, the Commissioner’s Cup BPC winner, registering 31.6 to round out the list of candidates.
Interestingly, no player from the two protagonists of this tournament’s title showdown—Barangay Ginebra and Meralco—made the Top 5, a first since the league institutionalized the plum in 1994.
The best import contest, though, will be featuring familiar faces—Justin Brownlee and Allen Durham, the Gin Kings and the Bolts’ respective resident reinforcements.
KJ McDaniels, whose KaTropa squad missed out on the Finals, enjoys a slim lead over Brownlee and Durham with 58.6 SPs. The Ginebra ace had a 57.2 average, while the Meralco workhorse tallied 56.9.
Fajardo, whose Beermen again missed out on a rare Triple Crown sweep, was the Philippine Cup’s BPC.
Castro registered a norm of 14.9 points, 5.9 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals.
Making the lower half of the BPC’s Top 10 are NorthPort’s Stanley Pringle (30.8 SPs), TNT’s Roger Pogoy (30.4), Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar (29.9), Meralco’s Chris Newsome (29.8), with Gin King’s LA Tenorio and Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang rounding out the cast (28.0).
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