Described by multititled coach Tim Cone as a game changer, Stanley Pringle on Sunday night won his first Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award, a citation that will go down in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) history as the most unusual of them all considering how the league was able to get a tournament off in a very extraordinary time of crisis last year.
The 6-foot-1 guard bested out four other bright Philippine Cup performers inside a bubble in Angeles City as Pringle capped a superlative stint that also saw him help the Gin Kings to the title.
“Just being nominated for me was already a blessing. All the players were deserving, so I’m looking forward to the next conference to play hard,” the Filipino-American guard said in a virtual ceremony aired on national television and across One Sports’ social media channels.
Aaron Black of Meralco was named the outstanding rookie of the conference, one which was played daily and kept players who went on to play in the Finals confined to a space for close to 10 weeks. Black, son of Bolts’ coach Norman, also became the lowest pick in the Draft—18th overall—to win the award.
“It’s definitely a great feeling,” the Bolts guard said. “This will definitely push me to work even harder for the next conference. Looking forward to what we have in store for Meralco.”As the BPC, Pringle was a virtually automatic choice for the Elite Five, the 45th season’s version of the Mythical Team. He joined Ginebra teammate Japeth Aguilar, Phoenix Super LPG’s Calvin Abueva and Matthew Wright, along with TNT’s Poy Erram in the list of prolific performers.
Other Ginebra winners
Pringle was outside the list of top five finishers in the statistical points race, but managed to garner enough votes from players and the league to zoom past the competition that also included Wright and Abueva.
Ginebra teammates Scottie Thompson and Prince Caperal also won big, with Thompson hailed the new winner of the Sportsmanship Award named after Samboy Lim, and Caperal winding up as the most improved player after delivering big time in the absence of the 7-foot Greg Slaughter.
Slaughter has held out signing a new pact with the Gin Kings, and Cone pulled a rabbit out of his hat in Caperal, who never really made heads turn in his first few years in the league but played a vital role in Ginebra’s championship run.
“All the [other] players deserved it. As far as awards, your teammates are going to put you in a position to win,” added Pringle, who turned in averages of 18.5 points, on 44.3 percent shooting from the field and 38.3 percent from three-point range, along with 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists and one steal in 22 total games.“
All that time I was playing the game the right way. It made sacrifices worth it,” said Thompson, who put an end to Gabe Norwood’s three-year stranglehold of the award.
The PBA also hailed Mich Flores, Rouselle Ighot, Eric Castro, Niel Tibajares and Arloune Miguel—league staffers who juggled tasks and helped the bubble games flow hitch-free throughout its two-month run. INQ
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