Wow, what an opening weekend for the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. All 10 teams took the court over the weekend, with all “underdog” teams coming out victorious.
There were some crazy and unexpected performances in the first week that definitely shook up our rankings. Let’s take a look at our updated PBA Awards standings.
Best Player of the Conference
- Josh Urbiztondo (Prev Rank: 0): The fireball absolutely tore it up in the opening weekend, leading Barako to a 2-0 record with quality wins over San Mig Coffee and Globalport. After two games, Josh is averaging 20.5 points, 4 assists and 7 rebounds while shooting 44% from beyond the arc. Coach Rajko has trusted Urbiztondo with the starting PG spot and he has responded early with BPC numbers.
- Sol Mercado (Prev Rank: 2): While Globalport went 1-1, Sol continued his crazy numbers even in the stacked line-up of the Batang Pier. After the first week, the native of Puerto Rico is sitting on averages of 18 points, 13.5 assists and 3 rebounds. The new look Globalport is for real and Sol Mercado is the cog that will keep it going.
- Marc Caguioa (Prev Rank: 0): In a losing effort, the Spark put up 26 points (12/15 from the line), 5 rebounds and 3 assists. With import Herbert Hill struggling most of the game, the Barangay needed every single point from Caguioa to stay in the game. When Ginebra finally gets into a flow (will they?), expect the spark to continue to put up numbers like he did last season when he won the MVP award.
Best Import of the Conference
- Eric Dawson, Meralco (Prev Rank: 3): In the Spark’s inspiring win over Talk n Text, Dawson led the way with 37 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists and 2 steals. Dawson was just a beast vs. TNT and he really stamped his class and showed that he is worthy of the NBA D-League’s Impact Player of the Year award. Meralco may be depleted now, but they might’ve found an import in Dawson that could still keep them competitive in the Commissioner’s Cup.
- Bruno Sundov, Rain or Shine (Prev Rank: 1): Sundov was nearly dominant (except in the last possession) against Alaska. He tallied 30 points (on 65% shooting), 15 rebounds, but 0 blocks. Yup, he’s 7’3, but he didn’t block a single shot. Maybe it was an off-game blocks wise, but it’ll be interesting to see how opposing defenses play Rain or Shine this conference. Either they try to stop Bruno, or they stop everyone else. Alaska did the latter and benefited from it.
- Renaldo Balkman, Petron (Prev Rank: 3): As the only PBA import this conference who has had the honor of being digitized into a video game Balkman went on video-game mode in his first game. He finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks. He needed 23 shots to reach his point total which was a little disheartening. Petron has to get its act back together… sayang naman si Balkman if they don’t.
Most Improved Player
- Chris Ross (Prev Rank: 0): With Sol Mercado gone, Ryan Gregorio has officially ended the #FREEROSS movement. In 30 minutes, Chris surely disappoint, going for only 2 points, but grabbing 9 rebounds and 8 assists. With scorers like Dawson, Cardona and Buenafe on the floor, Ross knew that scoring was the least of his worries and instead focused on getting the offense into the correct flow and just being a pest on defense. Will this be his breakout conference? With Meralco generally thin in the PG department, it sure looks like it.
- Mark Yee (Prev Rank: 0): Bear with me on this one. In 2 games and 21 minutes of action, Yee produced a respectable 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds. While these numbers aren’t much, Yee was able to give the Batang Pier a steady bench presence with a whole lot of energy and tough defense. He was up in opposing guard’s faces the whole game and didn’t hesitate to mix it up with Globalport import Justin Williams. For the sake of all that is good in this world, I hope this keeps up.
- Danny Seigle (Prev Rank: 0): I don’t know if this really counts, but heck, Danny Seigle deserves to be here with performances of 8 and 16 points, showing an athleticism rarely seen in 37 year olds. Coach Rajko is trusting the veteran and he and the PBA fans have been rewarded with some solid performances and nostalgia to boot.
Rookie of the Conference
- Calvin Abueva (Prev Rank: 1): Desperation three to tie the game with 10 seconds to go + 14 rebounds against a team featuring a 7’3 center. Nuff said.
- Alex Mallari (Prev Rank: 0): Tim Cone trusted the rookie enough to give him 29 minutes of burn in their game vs. Globalport. Mallari responded with a line of 5 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists and somewhat outplayed starter Mark Barroca in this game. Watching Mallari play really gives you that impression that he will be great in the near future. Good thing he has Tim Cone to guide and develop him.
- June Mar Fajardo (Prev Rank 3): Took an elbow to the from Globalport’s Justin Williams, didn’t return. Finished with 5 points, 2 rebounds and a block in 11 mins. Please stay healthy, please don’t be our local version of Greg Oden.
Coach of the Conference
- Rajko Toroman (Prev Rank: 0): While not technically the head coach of Barako Bull, the team is using his system and executing his plays. During huddles, he’s the one drawing out plays and giving instructions, so he’s really is this team’s coach and the governing body who denied him that position should be scrapped. In any case, the former Smart Gilas drillmaster guided an undermanned Barako Bull squad to a 2-0 week, putting away San Mig Coffee (w/o an import) and Globalport. The win over the Batang Pier really showed Toroman’s effect on this roster. Even though they were down, their huddles were quiet and disciplined, with all players calmly listening to their “coach” draw up a play. In the end, they executed a beautiful out of bounds play which forced overtime and eventually the win for the Energy Cola.
- Junel Baculi (Prev Rank: 0): Coach Junel deserves to be on this list not only because of his team’s strong early showing, but also because of the fact that he was able to get Mercado, Miller, David and Aguilar to buy into his system and work together. Granted that it is as much of the players’ doing as his, but to be able to get into the heads of players as talented as MMDA is a feat in itself. Hopefully, it will last the whole conference.
- Ryan Gregorio (Prev Rank: 0): Made the most of his squad (and a limited TNT squad). Fine.. nobody outside of Coach Rajko and Junel impressed me after the first week. K
Week 1 was definitely for the books. With the “underdog” teams winning their initial matches, it really sets the tone for a very competitive conference.
Let us know what you guys think of this week’s picks! Comment below!