If people are still wondering why San Miguel Beer has had so much success in the PBA of late, the numbers released by the league on Wednesday tell the whole story.
Three starters of the rock-solid Beermen are running in the top five of the statistical points standings of the season MVP awards, with San Miguel cornerstone June Mar Fajardo having a hefty lead in his bid for a record fifth straight trophy.
Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot are fourth and fifth, in that order, with a fourth stalwart, gunslinger Marcio Lassiter, running eighth as they underscore how effective this nucleus has been, which gave the league’s oldest franchise a record fourth straight Philippine Cup early this season.
Chris Ross, San Miguel’s hard-nosed starting point guard, is in 20th spot. No team put more players in the Top 20 than the Beermen, with sister team Barangay Ginebra coming in second with three and rival conglomerate TNT KaTropa having just two.
“They are making the most out of the minutes that they are getting,” coach Leo Austria said of his starting lineup, an all-star team to say the least, which plays hard on both ends every game.
Fajardo has an average statistical points output of 38.77, more than a point ahead of Alaska’s Vic Manuel and more than two SPs better than GlobalPort guard Stanley Pringle.
That’s for the Commissioner’s Cup’s Best Player of the Conference award, which, if Fajardo wins, would give the 6-foot-10 Cebuano a record seventh BPC that would spice up his drive for No. 5 in the MVP derby.
Fajardo enjoys a 29.6-25.3 edge over Pringle in the MVP race, the bulk of his lead coming from his PH Cup performance where he normed 44.81 SPs per game compared to Pringle’s 36.08.
“June Mar is the prime example of what I am saying. He averages, I think, around 38 minutes and he plays his heart out each game,” Austria explained. “It’s a testament to how he takes care of his body because he can give you 100% each night.”
Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar is third in the MVP race with an average of 23.6 SPs, with Santos just a shade behind at 23.4 and Cabagnot having a 22.0 average.
Manuel’s chances of earning his first BPC and ousting Fajardo from the race is for Alaska to eliminate San Miguel in the Final Four of the on-going import-spice conference.
But the Beermen have a hefty 2-0 lead over the Aces, with San Miguel to gun for the clincher on Friday at Ynares Center in Antipolo after the league called off Game 3 on Wednesday night because of continuous rains and floods brought about by Typhoon “Henry.”
A conquest by the Beermen in their series would effectively oust Manuel, who has turned in a sterling effort in the absence of the suspended Calvin Abueva.
Aguilar, who is running third in the MVP race, and Barangay Ginebra shoot for a similar 2-0 lead against Rain or Shine on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Smart Araneta Coliseum.
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