The PBA bubble is sort of mirroring the NBA bubble with all of the sudden scoring outbursts, and it’s been a good watch. It’s obviously a welcomed surprise as it adds excitement to the already intriguing and unique conference.
With or without the strange circumstances, however, everyone knew that the Philippine Cup will be different. Though still a force, the conference’s five-time defending champion, San Miguel Beermen, isn’t looking like its usual juggernaut self as franchise man and six-time league MVP, June Mar Fajardo, is out with a broken tibia.
Since Fajardo has also bagged the last six Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference (BPC) awards, the race for the feat is finally wide open again, the players are responding accordingly.
Let’s now look at the emerging candidates for the BPC:
Kiefer Ravena, NLEX Road Warriors – The continuously rising superstar is parading another strong campaign. Ravena is at 19.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game with great shooting splits – 48% FG, 41% 3FG, 90% FT.
Christian Standhardinger, Northport Batang Pier – The lanky, high-scoring big man is again displaying his offensive prowess and stat-stuffing tendencies. He’s averaging a double-double of 18.8 points and a conference-leading 11.4 rebounds per game, while also dishing out 4.6 assists.
CJ Perez, Terrafirma Dyip – The athletic freak, who’s also a high-scoring presence on the floor, is slamming the old ‘Sophomore Slump’ theory by picking up where he left off in his rookie year. He has opened up his second season by putting up 25.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.8 steals per game.
Here’s why they’re on the “Honorable Mentions,” though: NLEX (2-5), Northport (1-4) and Terrafirma (0-5) are at the bottom of the standings. While the numbers are undeniably good, getting the BPC with such win-loss cards is almost impossible.
Mo Tautuaa, San Miguel Beermen
After a few rough years, the former PBA top overall pick is finally showcasing his potential. He has taken over the reins as the Beermen’s new go-to guy, which is just what the undermanned squad needed. Tautuaa is leading the team in points (18.3) per game and field goal shooting (60%), and is also second in rebounds (7.3) and assists (3.0)
Matthew Wright, Phoenix Fuel Pasters
Wright is still one of the league’s best shooters and the undisputed main man of the ultra-talented Phoenix squad. He’s tallying a league-leading and career-high 25.7 PPG to go along an all-around 5.7 RPG and 5.2 APG.
The way he’s attracting defense has also opened up better opportunities for Jason Perkins (17.4 PPG, 10 RPG), which is an added reason for his case as BPC.
Ray Parks, Talk N’ Text Tropang Giga
The forgettable 2019-20 Governor’s Cup is now a distant memory as Parks has bulldozed his way back into elite status. Not only is he averaging 21.4 PPG, he’s also shooting superbly, compiling a 58% clip from the floor and an astounding 57% from beyond the arc – and that’s on 3.4 threes per game on 6.0 attempts.
Parks had an injury scare on October 29th against NLEX following a bad fall, but it doesn’t appear to be that serious for now. We’ll see if he misses time, although it looks like his biggest obstacle for the BPC is actually one of his teammates.
RR Pogoy, Talk N’ Text Tropang Giga
Pogoy is playing unconscious right now. The sweet-shooting guard is trigger happy and on-target as ever, and he’s got the backing of TNT’s high-octane offense. It’s the perfect marriage.
In six games, Pogoy is punching in 22.8 PPG (3rd in the conference) and a swishing a conference-leading 3.8 threes per contest, highlighted by a career-high, 45-point performance in the team’s bubble debut last October 11th.
TNT is sitting atop the standings at 5-1, and well-poised to finish as the number one seed in the Philippine Cup. If the record and Pogoy and Parks’s numbers hold up, it’s going to be one of the most exciting BPC races in recent memory.