For the eliminated players, this is a preview or a throwback on what they will do or they have done to deserve a spot in this conference and reserve a spot for the next.
As for the players from Rain or Shine, Powerade, Petron, and Talk N Text, this is a call on the paths their team will take when they succeed (or fail) in delivering their teams to the promise land.
Happy New Year, readers!
Game starts now!
20 ALASKA / LA TENORIO
STATS: 13.6PPG • 5.6RPG • 5.4APG • 1.0SPG
I think it’s safe to say that Tenorio is lucky to last the rankings for this long. The only way for him to avenge this conference is with a big time reinforcement.
19 RAIN OR SHINE / GABE NORWOOD
STATS: 7.9PPG • 6.2RPG • 3.9APG • 0.9SPG
We have been crying the heavens for Norwood to rid himself of his current slump and while he remains inconsistent, he proved his worth against Ginebra especially when the game was on the line.
18 MERALCO / SOLOMON MERCADO
STATS: 14.1PPG • 3.9RPG • 5.0APG • 1.3SPG
After a hot finish in the eliminations, Mercado scoring outburst cooled down in the quarterfinals match against the Petron Blaze Boosters.
17 POWERADE / DOUG KRAMER
STATS: 11.4PPG • 10.7RPG • 1.2APG
Doug Kramer did what? Kramer got the opportunity to shine in Powerade and he did not disappoint. Throughout the conference, we’re always taking consideration on his double-double prowess.
16 RAIN OR SHINE / JEFF CHAN
STATS: 15.5PPG • 3.3RPG • 2.1APG • 0.8SPG
If there’s one man who’s bent on having a breakout season, then Jeffrei Chan is your guy. The former FEU King Tam is realizing his potential and the Tigers need to clamp him in any way possible.
15 TALK N TEXT / JAPETH AGUILAR
STATS: 10.8PPG • 6.7RPG • 1.1APG • 2.2BPG
Talk N Text mentor Chot Reyes calls Japeth as his wildcard. Indeed he is – especially with most of Chot’s big men going in and out of the active list.
14 MERALCO / GABBY ESPINAS
STATS: 14.3PPG • 9.1RPG • 1.1APG • 1.0BPG
He will play a major role in the import-laden conferences since he can play both forward positions well. This conference is an indication that Espinas can be a good player playing in a good team.
13 PETRON / CHRIS LUTZ
STATS: 18.3PPG • 2.7RPG • 3.2APG • 2.0SPG
Chris Lutz returned just in time to save the Blaze Boosters from the injury of Alex Cabagnot. A-Cab should return next week with perhaps Dondon Hontiveros in tow (a reader has explained that the Cebuano hotshot will be out for six months) but don’t think for one second that Lutz’ importance will be diminished.
12 ALASKA / SONNY THOSS
STATS: 15.4PPG • 9.4RPG • 2.4APG • 1.3BPG
The Boss is now resting after a stressful conference. All he needs to do is enjoy his vacation, prepare for next conference and hopefully the Aces return to their glory.
11 RAIN OR SHINE / PAUL LEE
STATS: 13.7PPG • 4.5RPG • 4.5APG • 0.9SPG
Paul Lee survived Mark Caguioa and the rest of the Barangay Ginebra Kings and will lock horns with Gary David and the Powerade Tigers. I know David is the Tigers’ ace but I think the better faceoff in this series is him against JV Casio.
10 B-MEG / KERBY RAYMUNDO
STATS: 12.9PPG • 7.6RPG • 2.9APG • 0.8SPG
Kerby did well for B-Meg despite getting swept by the Tigers in the quarterfinals but will his performance be enough to claim a lead seat with Marc Pingris and Joe Devance eager for increased playing time.
9 BARAKO BULL / WILLIE MILLER
STATS: 15.8PPG • 4.9RPG • 4.7APG • 1.7SPG
Miller averaged 2.5ppg and 2.0rpg in four games for Ginebra last conference. This started the Miller washed up rumors. A few months after, Thriller’s averages ballooned six times as well as his rebounds and assists.
8 POWERADE / GARY DAVID
STATS: 22.5PPG • 3.6RPG • 2.1APG • 0.7SPG
His hands fumed like hell against B-Meg where defending against him were scorers James Yap and Peter June Simon. It resulted with El Granada bringing in 34.5 points. Can David score the same stats against ROS where we can expect Jeff Chan, Ryan Arana, and Jireh Ibanes to hound him?
7 TALK N TEXT / HARVEY CAREY
STATS: 12.9PPG • 11.2RPG • 1.8APG
Harvey is TNT’s silent assassin. He is not flashy and when the game is over, you’ll just be surprised that he just had a double-double. Expect him to have the same scenario once the Tropang Texters square off against the Blaze Boosters.
6 B-MEG / JAMES YAP
STATS: 19.0PPG • 5.2RPG • 2.3APG
King James had it worse when he found out B-Meg’s invulnerability will be destroyed by the conference’s eighth seed. Definitely James Yap will feed on this debacle of a campaign to get his Llamados up top in the next conference.
5 TALK N TEXT / JAYSON CASTRO
STATS: 15.6PPG • 4.6RPG • 5.1APG • 1.0SPG
The Blur has been Talk N Text’s main man at the quarterback spot and even with the return of Jimmy Alapag and Ryan Reyes from sickbay, Chot Reyes can’t do much without his ever reliable combo guard. The Jason Castro-Denok Miranda matchup should excite people.
4 POWERADE / MARCIO LASSITER
STATS: 16.3PPG • 5.6RPG • 4.0APG • 1.7SPG
Inasmuch as we have to give it to Gary David for towing Powerade to the semifinal round, El Granada is reaping the seeds of a revamped lineup. One of those useful additions is the California Swagger. Lassiter is David’s Scottie Pippen in terms of scoring and he gives out other stats which is why he is above him on this list.
3 TALK N TEXT / KELLY WILLIAMS
STATS: 14.8PPG • 8.9RPG • 1.5APG • 0.9SPG • 1.1BPG
K-Will is probably the Tropang Texters’ most consistent performer. He doesn’t give out much in the points and rebounds department but truth be told that he gets the job done. With Ranidel De Ocampo still recuperating, he is the team’s main man in the big man department. He’ll probably concentrate in defending against Arwind Santos since he is the only mobile big man that could hang with the Spiderman.
2 PETRON / ALEX CABAGNOT
STATS: 14.8PPG • 4.3RPG • 6.8APG • 1.2SPG
The long break will benefit every player that’s going to play in the semifinal round but none will benefit more than Alex Cabagnot. Cabagnot only played three minutes in their series clincher against the Meralco Bolts and you can’t really see a win for the Boosters if he continues to go AWOL against the Tropang Texters. While an Alapag versus Cabagnot match will be anticipated, I think he’ll have his hands full checking out the defenses of Castro and Ryan Reyes.
1 PETRON / ARWIND SANTOS
STATS: 18.3PPG • 12.3RPG • 1.2APG • 1.3SPG • 1.4BPG
The Talk N Text Tropang Texters are mad with vengeance after Petron squashed their hopes of becoming the fifth team in PBA history to win a grand slam. Now Arwind Santos fuelled the romp and the Tropang Texters will stop at nothing to avenge that loss. So it will all come down on how the Texters defend against the Spiderman who is currently leading the Best Player of the Conference race. Even if Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Jay Washington, and Dondon Hontiveros return to the fold, it is not sure if Santos will not get the lion’s share of ball possessions and shot selections.
So with these points said...
Who will win the Best Player of the Conference Award?
If Petron wins, it’s a lock for Arwind Santos to win the Best Player Award. Unless Alex Cabagnot goes on a statistical barrage, I can’t see him taking out Arwind who since Day One has occupied the top of the rankings.
If Talk N Text wins in their semis encounter, I can see Williams or Castro looming as winners. Among the two though, I’m going to trust on Castro more than Williams. Castro is notorious for playing extremely well especially when the stakes are high. Machine Gun Kelly has been silent in TNT’s last three playoff performances with Ali Peek, Harvey Carey, and Ranidel De Ocampo stepping up big as their inside presence.
However this will depend on the other semis matchup. It’s easy for the Tropa boys to win if they’ll go up in the finals against Rain or Shine because Yeng Guiao rotates the minutes of his players. Paul Lee for one has yet to explode for ROS when he gets 30 or more minutes. The Powerade players however, are different animals. They will have Gary David and Lassiter working on extended minutes and these guys are inside the Top Ten. For impact alone, I can see David claiming the award especially if he does well in the semis. For all around outputs however, I’m going to go with Lassiter because his points, rebounds, assists, and steals outputs rival those of Arwind (although Arwind’s rebounding average is seriously overwhelming).
While these players would want to claim individual accolades, I don’t think they’ll like win the Best Player Award as part of the losing squad.
Still though... a win right here automatic gives a player a Mythical Team citation.