Of this writing, the current PBA season is still weird at best.
For starters, the league is still reeling from the pandemic. Before and during the PBA season, the most popular players have decided to either retire, stay on within a limited capacity to become locker room teachers, or toss their knee pads and elbow pads into politics.
Another is the departure of the beloved Alaska Aces and who is probably the best mascot in league history, E. Cow.
I guess the only one that could beat Alaska and their winning tradition is Dutch-based dairy cooperative FrieslandCampina getting majority control of the company and deciding that a PBA franchise isn’t important to their future outlook.
The first wave of special round players is finally playing in the PBA. The Nieto Brothers (Matt and Mike) are playing awesome for their teams. I guess the same can be said with Isaac Go, Rey Suerte, and Allyn Bulanadi. At least the teams are not going to rely on the 3X3 players that at this point are probably the better version of the PBA D-League in the sense that teams are actually calling up their players instead of college teams participating without a midseason callup.
And the crappiest thing to happen is pretty much the 2022 PBA unrestricted free agency. Again, I believe that this is going to be a good thing in the long run because players can now control their careers. The sucky thing about this development though is the way these players looked for their financial gains. The weak teams were robbed without doable replacements and the up-and-comers were reduced to benchwarmers. Jericho Cruz is a classic case of having a secured spot in NLEX and becoming a bench mob player in San Miguel.
Anyway, I still don’t know much about the PBA. All I know is that it’s the end of the season and they are probably going to hand out MVP and Mythical Team citations to deserving people.
Here are my top ten players.
Note: I placed a cap on the qualifications. The player should have at least played in 20 games and must have played in a playoff game this season. This means the players from Terrafirma and Blackwater are not qualified to be on this list... if they played for the team for the entire season.
10 | MATTHEW WRIGHT | PHOENIX
16.3PPG | 5.8RPG | 6.4APG | 1.6SPG | 24 GAMES
Matthew Wright had stellar numbers despite playing for a not-so-stellar team that got messed up because of player movements. If Phoenix wants to keep Wright on their side and not go to the other Asian countries, then giving him more firepower is a must. Also, for the PBA, maybe it’s time to help the other small-market teams to become a little more competitive?
9 | CHRISTIAN STANDHARDINGER | GINEBRA
14.4PPG | 9.4RPG | 2.3APG | 30 GAMES
At the moment, C-Stan is the darkhorse bet with a slim chance to score the feat. With that said, the 32-year-old, fourth-year pro who is also playing for his third PBA team could state his case as a sure-ball bet in the Mythical First Team, especially with most of the top players being small ball stars. I mean, the PBA would still base their Mythical Teams on position, right?
8 | JUNE MAR FAJARDO | SAN MIGUEL
13.8PPG | 11.0RPG | 1.8APG | 1.1BPG | 32 GAMES
Ever since June Mar Fajardo won MVP-after-MVP-after-MVP and so on, it’s hard for people to see the contenders without him at the forefront. However, his return from injury to the Beermen fold hasn’t been good because some dude in the front office thought it was a good idea to destroy the Death Five. Everyone in the San Miguel team suffered stat drops and while Fajardo is no different, at least he’s also the only local this season (not counting Ginebra and Meralco) to finish with a double-double.
7 | MARK BARROCA | MAGNOLIA
11.2PPG | 3.6RPG | 5.0APG | 1.2SPG | 41 GAMES
Ever since Mark Barroca made his proper debut in the PBA after his stint with Smart-Gilas, he has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career – scoring a couple of Mythical Teams and a grand slam – among other things. Barroca has also been consistent as Magnolia’s main quarterback and as always, he’s at least a contender to land at the guard slots in the Mythical squads.
6 | IAN SANGALANG | MAGNOLIA
13.7PPG | 6.9RPG | 1.1APG | 0.6SPG | 0.6BPG | 40 GAMES
Sure, his Governors Cup isn’t as stellar as his Philippine Cup averages but it’s hard to discount what Ian Sangalang did this season. With the retirement of Marc Pingris, the former San Sebastian can finally say that he’s the leader of Magnolia’s frontcourt. And again, in the Philippine Cup campaign, Sangalang averaged 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds. Boss numbers, I tell you.
5 | ROBERT BOLICK | NORTHPORT
19.1PPG | 6.7RPG | 8.2APG | 1.4SPG | 22 GAMES
Robert Bolick chose to remain with Northport rather than follow the money and perhaps, playing time restrictions. Just look at his numbers. Here’s the thing though. It’s hard for Bolick to win the MVP – and perhaps a Mythical First Team citation. Of the ten names on this list, Bolick played the fewest games... and the fewest playoff games in this season.
4 | CHRIS NEWSOME | MERALCO
12.7PPG | 5.1RPG | 4.8APG | 1.2SPG | 34 GAMES
I think it’s high time for Chris Newsome to score a Mythical team spot – much less, an MVP trophy. His numbers aren’t that high but he has been consistently leading the Bolts to top-tier finishes. Paying his dues as the top guy of MVP’s second-most favorite PBA team, Meralco seriously overachieved this season – with potentially 17 playoff games this season.
3 | MIKEY WILLIAMS | TNT
PHILIPPINE CUP FINALS MVP
19.5PPG | 4.4RPG | 4.4APG | 0.9SPG | 36 GAMES
I don’t know if Mikey Williams is qualified for the Top Rookie honor but certainly, he could join the likes of Bogs Adornado and Benjie Paras as the only players to win the title during their debut season. I remembered being stunned at the sight of Williams going fourth because I thought there are a lot better prospects. Not only am I eating my words, I am also thinking that Williams has a great chance to score the MVP award because of what TNT did in the Philippine Cup and his contributions that set up their championship.
2 | SCOTTIE THOMPSON | GINEBRA
13.0PPG | 9.3RPG | 5.3APG | 1.3SPG | 0.9BPG | 27 GAMES
Are we ready to see a new Ginebra MVP? If yes, then you are in for a treat. Scottie Thompson is still giving out power forward vibes with his numbers. Also, Thompson and his Barangay Ginebra Kings are also in the PBA Governors Cup Finals. The long-awaited return of the arena peeps could be the right step to normalcy and what better way to truly make this awesome than giving the award to the top dog of the crowd darlings.
1 | CALVIN ABUEVA | MAGNOLIA
PHILIPPINE CUP BEST PLAYER
14.5PPG | 8.8RPG | 2.3APG | 1.0SPG | 0.9BPG | 34 GAMES
Will the PBA finally recognize the personal and professional improvements of one Calvin Abueva? If a Thompson win would make a nation happy, a Calvin Abueva victory would further fuel his personal growth. I mean, his return to glory alone is a good enough deal but maybe he could have more since he’s the only player to win a Best Player of the Conference award this season (as of writing) and the Magnolia Hotshots were able to play 19 playoff games this season.
I am a sucker for happy endings so I think it’s a tossup between Calvin Abueva and Scottie Thompson. But if I am going to really choose, I want Abueva to win. Maybe Ginebra can take the title with Justin Brownlee winning the Best Import award but let’s just have The Beast walking away with the plum.