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11:54 PM December 11th, 2012

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By: Beth Celis, December 11th, 2012 11:54 PM

THE RACE for the 2012-2013 PBA Best  Player of the Conference is on, head statistician Fidel Mangonon informed us through a text message early yesterday morning.

On top of the list after the elimination round, are Petron’s Arwind Santos with an average of 35.9 statistical points with Alaska’s Calvin Abueva second with 32.7.

Talk ‘N Text’s Jason Castro lay third with 31.9, followed by Meralco’s Sol Mercado with 31.1 and Kelly Williams, also of TNT, with 29.3.

The next five are Jeffrei Chan of Rain or Shine, James Yap of San Mig Coffee,  Ranidel de Ocampo of TNT, Larry Fonacier of TNT, and Mark Caguioa of Barangay Ginebra and Cyrus Baguio of Alaska (tied), in that order.

* * *

“A rookie in second place? Does this mean there’s a possibility that he may be able to duplicate the feat of Benjie Paras?” I asked the numbers man.

Mangonon said yes, adding that Abueva’s team should maintain the same level of performance in the next two conferences to stand a chance of winning the plum.

In 1989, Paras, who was then playing for Shell, became the first and only PBA cager to win Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year honors in the same season.

The Beast, as Abueva is called, ranks third overall in rebounds and steals, and holds a conference second-best five double doubles. Only Santos has posted more.

Abueva posted averages of 14.6 points,  10.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.6 steals.

Abueva’s former mentor at NLEX, Boyet Fernandez, can’t be prouder.

“I always knew Calvin’s brand of play would click in the PBA,” Fernandez said. “He deserves to be up there. Yes, he could duplicate the feat of 1989 MVP-ROY Benjie Paras. He can do it.”

* * *

Fallen boxing icon Manny Pacquiao described his knockout exactly the way local promoter Jun Sarreal had described it in a text message hours after last Sunday’s fight.

“When a boxer is knocked out, he may  see stars before he completely blacks out,” Sarreal said. “When he regains consciousness, most of the time he doesn’t remember what happened. He may ask what hit him, unaware that he is down on the floor.”

After looking for Buboy Fernandez when he came to, the first words uttered by Manny was, “What happened? Is the fight over?”

“Fighters like Manny never think of retiring, like my friend Top Rank promoter Bob Arum, who wants another fight because for him, that’s big business,” Sarreal added.

* * *

According to Sarreal, he saw the knockout coming: “Manny’s camp had been too overconfident. Marquez came in at 143 pounds to maintain his speed, but he built up power. Manny, at 147, slowed down.

“It’s time for us Filipinos to ask for his retirement if we really care for him, never mind the money. We want him to stay healthy,” Sarreal said.

Pacquiao fan Bradford Martinez, whose family owns the Martinez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan, echoes Sarreal.

“It’s the end of the Pacman era,” he said.  “The changing of the guard has come.”

* * *

The day after the fight, I got an early-morning text message from People’s Journal sports editor Joe Antonio.

“Look at Pacman’s pictures in the front pages.  Hindi ba parang si Ninoy (Aguino) na nakadapa sa tarmac matapos barilin? (Doesn’t he look like Ninoy slumped on the tarmac after he was gunned down?),” Joe said.

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TAGS: Basketball, PBA
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