All but one (Jimmy Alapag) of the Gilas players have returned to action for their teams this conference and that should hopefully allow us to settle into some continuity with our awards watch. This week, Petron and Barako Bull continue their stellar conferences, while a lot of teams find themselves lumped up in the middle of the pack and three teams stuck with one win each at the bottom.
We’ve had some pretty impressive individual performances this week. Let’s go see how that affected our award rankings.
Best Player of the Conference
Paul Lee (Previous: 2)
Rain or Shine went 1-1 this week and it was clear to the world that when Lee does not play, his team just doesn’t go anywhere. With Lee being sidelined because of a sprained ankle vs. Alaska, the Elasto Painters scored a season low 79 points and just didn’t have enough to keep up with the Aces. Coming back against Air 21 last Saturday, Lee was a big factor in righting the ROS ship as he put together a 19 point, three rebound, six assist and three steal game. More importantly, Lee was instrumental in helping both Chan and Norwood to sort of break-out of their post-Gilas slumps. It’s going to be a tough climb back to the top for ROS this conference, but with Lee playing his best basketball in a while, a twice-to-beat advantage in the playoffs is still within reach.
Emman Monfort (Previous: Bubble)
Against the most popular team in the league, Emman Monfort put up a career high 25 point explosion that helped push the streaking Energy Cola further up the standings. For the conference, Monfort is now averaging 17 points, three rebounds and four assists per game on very impressive shooting figures (48% from the field and from beyond the arc). Defensively, he’s also not letting his size limit him. In his last two games, his strength and speed on the ball have caused both LA Tenorio and Mike Cortez to submit sub-par performances. I don’t know how long Monfort can keep this up, but his and Barako Bull’s performance has truly been this conference’s best storyline for me.
Arwind Santos (Previous: N/A)
Petron finally looks like it has figured itself out, which has led to many calling this a “finals or bust” conference for them. With a team as talented as the Blaze Boosters, Arwind Santos has settled into a pretty effective role as a 3rd offensive option that relies mostly on offensive rebounds for points. Yes, it doesn’t sound too flashy, but this is really the type of game that Santos is suited for nowadays. With him not being the focal point of the offense, Santos has been pretty solid for Petron (12 points, eight rebounds: three offensive and a block per game). The Petron machine is looking unstoppable right now and Arwind Santos’ has been an integral cog in its engine.
Bubble: Jayson Castro, LA Tenorio, Marc Pingris
Best Import of the Conference
Michael Singletary (Previous: 1)
Singletary’s point totals in his last for games: 41, 28, 41 and 38 points scored. While it is true that Barako Bull lacks local firepower, it’s just hard to comprehend how Singletary is able to get his points efficiently, especially since he takes most of his team’s shots. His current 44.2% shooting clip is being brought down by a 26% showing from beyond the arc (not so bad actually). But, if we stick to his two-point field goals, he’s converting 51% of his shots. Credit the Barako Bull coaching staff for getting him some good looks game in and game out.
Elijah Millsap (Previous: Bubble)
With its frontline of Fajardo, Kramer and Santos taking care of things inside, Petron has been able to unleash Elijah Millsap to wreak havoc on the perimeter. Just like Renaldo Balkman, Millsap has taken advantage of matching-up against smaller local players to the tune of 28 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals per game after five games. Especially impressive from Millsap has been his defense on the perimeter, most recently stealing the ball six times against SMC earlier this week. We’ve already seen some highlight dunks from him after key defensive plays and it looks like break-away slams will be the norm for him this conference.
Wendell McKines (Previous: N/A)
Looking at McKines, people might expect him to play like Tony Mitchell or Michael Singeltary out on the perimeter. But, as soon as the game starts, we realize that McKines makes a living getting down and dirty inside the paint. Against ROS and Ginebra this week, McKines was a beast inside, going for 30 and 27 points respectively. Definitely, the most impressive thing about him is his ability to corral offensive rebounds. This conference, he’s averaging 14 rebounds a game, which includes almost seven offensive boards per game. With McKines on board, the Aces’ frontline of Thoss, Espinas, Abueva and McKines could easily be the most menacing in the league this conference.
Bubble: Markeith Cummings, Mario West, Tony Mitchell
Rookie of the Conference
Eman Monfort (Previous: 1)
See: Best Player of the Conference
June Mar Fajardo (Previous: 2)
Slowly but surely, Fajardo is becoming a force inside for the Blaze Boosters. After his lacklustre game vs. Ginebra a few weeks back, Fajardo has consistently delivered the goods for Petron inside (12.3 points, eight rebounds, two steals and three blocks per game in his last three games). If Arwind Santos is a key cog in Petron’s engine, then Fajardo is the chassis that holds Petron’s championship goals in place.
Cliff Hodge (Previous: Bubble)
Hodge has been a beast in his last two games, averaging 17 points and 13 rebounds vs. Ginebra and TNT. As expected, Hodge’s emergence has caused Hugnatan’s numbers to slip a bit. It’ll be interesting to see how Coach Ryan Gregorio balances both players’ minutes moving forward.
Bubble: Calvin Abueva, Chris Tiu, Alex Mallari
Breakout Player of the Conference
Emman Monfort (Previous: 3)
See: Best Player of the Conference.
Or you could watch this:
Reynel Hugnatan (Previous: 2)
Reynel Hugnatan continues to be rewarded by Coach Ryan for his effort whenever he’s on the court. After starting the conference strong, he’s slowly coming back down to earth as he managed “only” 10 and six points in Meralco’s last two outings. With Hodge slowly nipping at Hugnatan’s playing time, Hugnatan will have to reassert his value to his team. Our advice? Less fouls (four per game) and more importantly, turnovers (three per game).
Jay Washington (Previous: Bubble)
Finally given the minutes, Jay Washington has reminded us of two things. 1. He can definitely score the ball (11 points per game) and 2. He needs a lot of shots to get it done (24/81 from the field or 30%). He’s also averaging close to ten rebounds and three assists per game, but right now, Jay Washington’s reintroduction to the league is being hampered by all the bricks he’s throwing around. For Globalport to have a successful conference, shots need to be more spread out and diagrammed more efficiently.
Bubble: Doug Kramer, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Sean Anthony
What do you guys think of our contenders for the PBA awards? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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