Oct. 15, 2016
2016 PBA Leo Awards: June Mar Fajardo's third MVP plus other thoughts and predictions
Torn between caring for a naughty kid, making four loyalty swaps with regards to the blockbuster trades, and doing a Reynel Hugnatan hype article, I chose to predict the 2016 edition of the PBA Leo Awards!
So I am going to make this quick and easy – considering by now we have an idea on how the proceeding plays out. The MVP Award is going to be named last with the Rookie of the Year getting acclaim as well. Now I am going to skip a bunch of titles like the All-Defensive Team as well as the Most Improved Player recipient because I haven’t been thoroughly following the PBA this year (as you know, this site has switched from wrestling to Philippine basketball like girls and their fashion sense).
Game starts now.
Most Valuable Player
June Mar Fajardo
Of all the awards to be presented, this is in fact the easiest to predict. The difference between June Mar Fajardo’s MVP runs and Steve Nash’s MVP runs is that Kraken’s top player runs resulted to titles for San Miguel. It was hard to give Nash that third straight MVP title because he already narrowly defeated the likes of Shaquille O’Neal in 2005 and Kobe Bryant in 2006 and getting him over against Dirk Nowitzki could cause more harm than good. Fajardo on the other hand is extremely dominant in all of his MVP campaigns and even with the other BPC winners, there is no question on whose arms will be raised. Fajardo claimed his Best Player of the Conference Award in the league’s most important conference. He even helped the Beermen capture their second straight Philippine Cup title which also tied the Purefoods franchise in most All-Filipino/Philippine Cup title wins. In his last three seasons, June Mar was able to average at least 15 points and 12 rebounds per game.
Also, awarding June Mar the top prize would cement him as a once of a lifetime talent and it will give the PBA a milestone that’s unlikely to be matched in the coming years.
Mythical First Team
June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, and Arwind Santos
Jayson Castro is the reigning Governors’ Cup Best Player and he finished this season with averages of 20.3ppg, 4.0rpg, 6.1apg, and 1.1spg. The Blur is regarded by most pundits as the face of the TNT franchise regardless how “Ranidelightful” Ranidel De Ocampo’s suggested monikers are. Meanwhile, Calvin Abueva (15.4ppg, 8.5rpg, 2.5apg, and 1.2spg) finally got his first BPC trophy when he almost led the Alaska Aces to a Commissioner’s Cup victory against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Averaging nearly 25 points per game, Terrence Romeo (24.9ppg, 3.9rpg, 4.0apg, and 0.9spg) is one of the culprits behind GlobalPort’s first semifinal stint. And finally, despite accepting the nature of the beast that is becoming June Mar Fajardo’s sidekick, perennial stat monkey Arwind Santos (12.9ppg, 7.4rpg, 1.8apg, and 1.5bpg) can still deliver the punches to score a First Team stint. These are the folks that will join The Kraken in the Mythical First Team.
Mythical Second Team
Greg Slaughter, Alex Cabagnot, Stanley Pringle, LA Tenorio, and Japeth Aguilar
Despite playing in just 26 games, Greg Slaughter (19.7ppg, 11.7rpg, 2.0apg, and 1.3bpg) was able to post nearly-identical numbers to what June Mar had accomplished this season. Whether or not he shared the limelight with his Ginebra tag team partner, this is bar none Japeth Aguilar’s best PBA season to date with 13.9ppg, 6.8rpg, 1.5apg, and 1.7bpg. And speaking of tag teams, Stanley Pringle (19.3ppg, 5.8rpg, 4.5apg, and 0.8spg) has nearly the numbers put up by partner Terrence Romeo. And while I understand that it’s going to be hard inserting three guards in the Second Team and despite my thoughts of giving JR Quinahan (11.7ppg, 4.9rpg, and 1.9apg) a much deserved slot, I think popular choices like LA Tenorio and Alex Cabagnot (14.3ppg, 3.6rpg, 4.0apg, and 1.0spg) would round out the Second Team.
Rookie of the Year
For me, the three biggest contenders to win the Top Rookie plum are Chris Newsome, Troy Rosario, and Arthur dela Cruz. I thought the former San Beda Red Lion lucked out on the 2015 PBA Draft by going to a team that is building for the future. In some ways, this should have been Troy Rosario’s rookie season if he stayed with the Mahindra Enforcers. Rosario had flashes of brilliance but these feats aren’t enough to dislodge Ranidel De Ocampo from his spot. Newsome combines the rookie seasons of Rosario and Dela Cruz in my opinion. Meralco is like Blackwater with Cliff Hodge and possibly Baser Amer joining Newsome as vital cogs for the future and while they bungled their Philippine Cup stint, the Bolts were able to electrify their fans during the import-laden conferences.
And here’s what’s also at stake in this top rookie battle: Meralco has yet to have a player win. As mentioned in my previous article, the last person to win anything other than Rey Guevarra’s Slam Dunk titles is Cliff Hodge when he became part of his batch’s All-Rookie Team. This is why I am all up for a Chris Newsome win.
Do you doubt my choices? If so, you can hurl your thoughts at the comment box!