Top conference players have eyes on the PBA championship

PBA Philippine Cup BPC candidates (from left) Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva of the Magnolia Hotshots and Mikey Williams of the TnT Tropang Giga have their eyes on the championship but proud and honored to have been considered for the tournament’s top individual award. — PBA IMAGES

GAME Four of the best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup finals series was played on Wednesday just as the best player of the conference (BPC) award was handed out.

Three players in the running for the top individual plum are currently seeing action in the championship of the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) tournament, namely: Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots’ Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang, and TnT Tropang Giga rookie Mikey Williams.

While they were proud and honored to be among those in the hunt for the BPC award, all three made it known that still primary for them is to win the championship.

“To win the BPC award is just a bonus for me,” said Mr. Abueva in Filipino during the pre-finals press conference on Oct. 20.

He was leading in statistical points (SPs) in the most recent update of the league on the race with 34.2 SPs, built on averages of 15.2 points, 10 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and a steal through the semifinals.

“The stats you don’t pay too much attention to that. You go to the finals to win the trophy above all else,” he added.

The same goes for teammate Mr. Sangalang, third-running as per the last update.

“I went here to the bubble not to be a candidate for the BPC, but to get back to the finals and win,” said the Magnolia big man, who had 33.0 SPs from norms of 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists.

“I’m just playing my game and making sure I’m ready each time. All other things are just going to be a bonus.”

For Mr. Williams, fourth in the race with 32 SPs, winning the championship with TnT has always been the goal.

“I came to the team trying to fit in and do my share in our push to win the championship and here we are. That was the goal and I’m just being ready,” said the number four pick in this year’s rookie draft.

Entering Game Four, Mr. Williams and the Tropang Giga had the inside track to win the title, leading the series at 2-1.

Mr. Williams had been solid in the first three games of the series, averaging 29.3 points, punctuated by a 39-point outburst in their Game Three loss where he made a PBA finals record 10 three-pointers. He was complementing it with 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and a steal.

The Hotshots dropped to a 0-2 hole early in the series but managed to break through with a win in the third game to gain some traction.

Mr. Abueva had been churning out a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds while Mr. Sangalang had been steady for 16.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 blocks.

Other players in the running for the BPC award were Northport’s Robert Bolick with 33.7 SPs (second) and San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo with 31.8 SPs (fifth).