Night of firsts as PBA Press Corps recognize best in the league for 2018
MANILA, Philippines–It was a night of celebration and firsts.
The PBA Press Corps, which is celebrating its 30th founding anniversary, recognized the PBA’s finest in its annual awards night held for the 25th time Monday night at Novotel Araneta Center.
For the first time ever, the PBA Press Corps bestowed the Lifetime Achievement Award with Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu Jr. as its maiden recipient.
“When Gerry (Ramos) and Nelson (Beltran) first approached me about the Lifetime Achievement Award, I thought they were asking for suggestions or criteria. It took me awhile to understand that their invitation in behalf of the PBA Press Corps is actually for me,” Uytengsu said during his speech.
“So I stand here this evening very appreciative and humbled. My first thought about a lifetime recognition award is normally bestowed upon someone who’s no longer with us or is at the end of their career. I can assure you, neither of it is true,” he continued.
Recently-retired Chris Tiu also became the PBA Press Corps first-ever Breakout Player of the Season awardee.
The former Rain or Shine star had his best year in the PBA, ironically, in his final season in 2018 where he set career-highs including a 30-point performance in what turned out to be his swan song.
The spotlight also fell on Chito Victolero, who received the coveted Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan Coach of the Year trophy to cap off the night.
Victolero, who best multititled mentors Tim Cone of Barangay Ginebra and Leo Austria of San Miguel Beer, steered the Magnolia Hotshots to the 2018 Governors’ Cup championship.
“It’s a long journey. It took a lot of hard work and sacrifices for us to win the title,” he said.
The past presidents and senior members of the PBA Press Corps were also recognized while PBA chairman Ricky Vargas was given the President’s Award.
Alfrancis Chua, sports director of the San Miguel Corporation, was the recipient of the Danny Floro Executive of the Year award after all three SMC teams each won a title last season to pull off their own version of a Grand Slam under his watch.
During his speech, Chua called his “mentors” and PBA governors Robert Non of San Miguel and Rene Pardo of Magnolia on stage to share his award.
Other awardees include Alaska big man Vic Manuel, who was named Mr. Quality Minutes, NLEX center Poy Erram as Defensive Player of the Year, and NorthPort guard Stanley Pringle as Scoring Champion.
Phoenix forward Jason Perkins bannered the All-Rookie Team, which was made up of Alaska’s Jeron Teng, San Miguel’s Christian Standhardinger and Paul Zamar and Magnolia’s Robbie Herndon.
The league’s only five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, star guard Paul Lee and bruiser Manuel were given the Order of Merit honor.
Meanwhile, NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, San Miguel’s Chris Ross and Standhardinger, Blackwater’s Mike DiGregorio, Ginebra’s Joe Devance and Tiu were chosen to be part of the All-Interview Team.