With a strong performance all tournament long, Pringle makes a good case for ‘Best Player’ award
Stanley Pringle isn’t a guy encumbered by the need to feed his ego. In fact, the only thing he acknowledges about being in an elite cast of candidates for the highest individual honor for the recently concluded Philippine Cup was that picking a winner would be difficult for the voters.
“Well that’s going to be tough for you all (people voting),” he told reporters with a chuckle. “You’d have so many players to choose from.”
Pringle joins TNT’s Ray Parks Jr., Phoenix’s reinstated star Calvin Abueva and top gunner Matthew Wright, Terrafirma’s CJ Perez, and NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger in the list of names eligible for the Best Player of the Conference award.
The dynamic playmaker narrowly missed the Top 5 of the league’s statistical race, which ended just before the Ginebra’s championship series with TNT.
But his performance all tournament long was enough to merit inclusion to the list of candidates.
Pringle, who was hands-down the deadliest for Ginebra during the Final Four after averaging 18.4 points, 7 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per contest, came up with huge performances during the Finals, including a Game 2 explosion where he hit a crucial triple down the stretch before finding Scottie Thompson for the go-ahead trey that pretty much doomed TNT in the series.
But even before “Playoff Stanley” took charge, Pringle was very much the driver of a Ginebra engine that soared to the No. 1 seed entering the playoffs.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone actually said as much late in the eliminations round, adding it was a luxury to have someone like Pringle who can make things happen during crucial situations.
Asked about what he credited Ginebra’s success to in the elimination round, Cone said: “Stanley Pringle.”
He laughed after his reply, but it was far from a joke.
Pringle was actually Ginebra’s foremost weapon during the whirlwind eliminations that featured a punishing nine-day stretch where the league compressed 30 games, making an already condensed schedule doubly torturous. Pringle’s worth to the squad was heightened by the fact that during the elimination phase, Ginebra was still waiting for Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio to reach optimal game shape.
“Stanley is the most consistent player in the league, much less Ginebra,” Cone said on Nov. 3 after an 87-81 victory over Alaska where Pringle had 31 points and six rebounds. “[It is] such a luxury to have a guy like Stanley on your team. We could do so many things [with him].”
“We can go to him in big moments and throughout the whole game and he will respond. We have great confidence in him.”
And there was no bigger moment for the team than the Finals, where Pringle averaged 19.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists.
“It’s just having a team to fall back on,” Pringle said of his performance. “A team with such a great coaching staff is always gonna help at times when I’m struggling or hurt.”
“[And] It’s always having that good cast behind me, and I really owe it to them. The vets keeping me guided, giving me advice and everything? It [made things] easier for me,” he added.
Pringle is excited about getting a shot at the award. “Man, that’d be great,” he said.
But, as Cone mentioned, individual accolades are not high on the list of his top guard’s priorities. “He’s over himself, he doesn’t think about himself at all in any moment.”
And Pringle understands he’s not the only one who is in line for the trophy.
“All the other guys in the list are excellent,” he pointed out. ”So that’d be a good problem for you guys.”
Because the league’s 45th season managed to play only a single tournament, the league will honor the Philippine Cup’s top individual performer with the Best Player of the Conference award, not the MVP.
Not that it matters for Ginebra, which understands Pringle’s value to the squad already.
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