The recent 2020 Philippine Cup of the 45th Season of the PBA showed tons of surprises.
However, one of the biggest ones may come long after the games have been finished.
The shortened season saw multiple under-the-radar players step-up and play big for their respective teams. Hence, why the race for the Most Improved Player award is very interesting.
However, one man can make history if he ends up with the title.
Meralco’s team leader Reynel Hugnatan is one of the contenders for the MIP award this season.
The 42-year-old 17-year veteran put up 12.0 points (second on the team), 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists in 45% shooting at the field.
He elevated his game despite being in his 17th season and showcased leadership on and off the court.
His best game in the season came in Game 4 of the semifinal series against Barangay Ginebra.
Down 2-1 in the series, Hugnatan finished with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists and the game winning shot to push Game 5.
Hugnatan is on pace to be the eldest player to win the award surpassing the record of Dante Gonzalgo, who won it back in 1989 as a member of Anejo Rum 65er and KG Canaleta, who won it in 2013 as a member of Air21 Express, who both won it at the age of 31-years-old.
Hugnatan will have a tough race however as he is up against Kings’ own stretch-big in Prince Caperal, Phoenix’s versatile bigs in Jason Perkins and Justin Chua, Rain or Shine’s rising star in Javee Mocon and NLEX’s lowkey big in Raul Soyud.
Meanwhile, the race for the Best Player of the Conference award is very tight as well as the six contenders all have strong cases to win the title.
Leading the race are the two best players from the last two of the tournament, Barangay Ginebra’s Stanley Pringle and TNT’s Ray Parks.
Completing the six contenders are the star duo of the Fuel Masters in Calvin Abueva and Matthew Wright, Parks’ Tropang Giga partner in crime RR Pogoy and Terrafirma’s lone star CJ Perez.
Parks is the leader in terms of Statistical Points with Abueva behind him followed by Perez, Wright and Pogoy.
Pringle maybe last but after leading the Kings’ historic title run in the bubble, he’s still a heavy contender for the award.
The BPC awardee will be decided based on statistical points and votes from players, media, and the Commissioner’s Office.
On the other hand, the Outstanding Rookie (Rookie of the Year) Award race are between Barangay Ginebra’s Arvin Tolentino, Aaron Black of Meralco, Terrafirma’s Roosevelt Adams, Barkley Ebona of Alaska, and Magnolia’s Aris Dionisio.
The annual Leo Awards will be on January 17 and will be held virtually.