June Mar “The Kraken” Fajardo has dominated the local award scene during the last 2 years, winning 4 of the past 7 Best Player of the Conference (BPC) awards and 2 Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophies.
However, the Commissioner’s Cup will parade imports that are taller and stronger than most locals, which means that even JMF will have a harder time dominating and winning BPC.
In fact, since 2011, only backcourt players (point guard or shooting guard) have won the BPC during the Commissioner’s Cup. The winning PGs were Jimmy Alapag (2011), LA Tenorio (2013) and Jayson Castro (2014 & 2015) while the lone SG was Mark Caguioa (2012).
Therefore, it makes sense to expect a backcourt player to headline the BPC. So, here are 5 players who can win the BPC award aside from Fajardo.
1. Jayson Castro, Talk N’ Text
The last player to win BPC aside from June Mar Fajardo was Jayson “The Blur” Castro during the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup.
Castro averaged 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists during that campaign. In addition, Castro was buoyed by TNT finishing 2nd during the eliminations and the Tropang Texters reached the finals as well.
The best PG in Asia had an excellent start to this season when he led TNT with 20.2 points and 5.1 assists during the past conference. Castro has the knack for knowing when to involve the others or when to take over. If Castro continues to make threes (35% shooter), that opens up driving lanes for him and “The Blur” is an excellent finisher in the paint, maybe one of the best.
2. Paul Lee, Rain or Shine
The “Lethal Weapon” was at his best during the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup. Lee participated in a head-to-head duel against Jayson Castro during the elimination round that only got decided in the finals.
Unfortunately, RoS fell short against TNT in 7 games and Lee’s bid for his first ever BPC fell a tad short. Paul Lee had a poor showing last conference due to injuries. He only played 5 games during the playoffs and averaged less than 11 points. Lee got hurt again during the playoffs but RoS expects him to be back very soon, ready to deliver trifectas and virtuoso drives to the rim. The Lethal Weapon is also one of the most clutch scorers in the league.
3. Terrence Romeo, GlobalPort
GlobalPort has the best scorer in the league on their team. This guy can unleash a barrage of points in an instant. Terrence “Golden Boy” Romeo can break your team’s heart with a dagger step-back jumper, but he can also break his own team’s spirit and momentum when he takes matters into his own hands by launching ill-advised jumpers and using too many isolation plays.
Romeo is not an elite shooter (39% FG and 32% from deep) but he is definitely one of the top scorers in this league (23 ppg). If he can improve his shot selection plus involve his teammates more often, then Batang Pier might win more games this conference, thus, bolstering the chances of Romeo winning his 1st BPC. Remember this: players get extra statistical points for every win his team gets.
4. Stanley Pringle, Globalport
In just his 2nd season, Pringle has become one of the best playmakers in the PBA. Aside from that, Pringle is currently averaging career-highs in points, rebounds, assists and shooting percentages.
He may not be as flashy as his backcourt mate, but Pringle gets the job done. When Pringle cradles the ball and performs his powerful hop step in the shaded lane, he either gets fouled or a makes a basket. In other cases, Pringle gets both the hoop and harm.
Furthermore, for someone whose perimeter game was a concern before coming into to the PBA, Pringle has vastly improved his shooting. He is a more efficient shooter and a better decision-maker than Romeo. Pringle is also your best bet to achieve a triple-double which is a testament to Pringle’s overall prowess on the court.
5. LA Tenorio, Barangay Ginebra
Last year, a lot of Ginebra fans wanted to trade LA Tenorio. This year, I wonder how many of those still want to trade him after Tenorio proved to be an important and crucial part of the Barangay.
His numbers during the past conference were solid (8 points, 4.6 assists and 4.2 rebounds.) but his overall effect was felt better during the playoffs where his numbers increased to 14.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 steals.
For good measure, Tenorio has already made clutch shots this season which is definitely an improvement from last season. Lastly, Tenorio knows how to win and the presence of Coach Tim Cone will benefit Tenorio because LA won his only PBA championship 5 years ago when he played for Coach Cone under Alaska. — By Rolly Mendoza