After two years, the best Season 46 were recognized, as the annual ceremonies took place at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Sunday. Highlighted, of course, by the Most Valuable Player (MVP) coronation.
Four of the league’s finest today are in contention for the league’s highest individual honor. But,only one among Scottie Thompson, Mikey Williams, Calvin Abueva, and Robert Bolick will go home with the coveted plum in hand.
Touted as the present and future Ginebra, Thompson emerged as a strong candidate following a run to remember in the Governor’s Cup, where he was announced as the Best Player of the Conference (BPC).
He would, later on, be named the PBA Press Corps Finals MVP after leading the Barangay to the championship at the expense of Meralco.
June Mar Fajardo was the previous player named as BPC and Finals MVP after steering San Miguel to an unprecedented Philippine Cup, last 2019. His feat was a huge reason why he went on to amass his sixth consecutive MVP award back in 2020.
Interesting Thompson in his bid, though, is Williams, who is in the running to become just the second Rookie-MVP since Benjie Paras in 1989 after leading TNT to its first title in years by winning the 2021 Philippine Cup.
Some view the MVP award only between Thompson and Williams, because of their similar campaigns in the two-conference season.
Remembering that Ginebra saw its rule over the all-Filipino wars end at the hands of the Tropang Giga in the quarterfinals, but was able to get back on its corporate rivals by ousting them in the same round of the Governor’s Cup.
Yet, there are still others who also have solid cases for the award. Abueva, who won Philippine Cup BPC honors, after a seamless transition to the Hotshots in just his first conference in the powerhouse.
In addition, there is Bolick, who headed in all statistical categories in an impressive comeback after a yearlong layoff because of an ACL injury.
The PBA Leo Awards, formerly known as the PBA MVP Awards Night and PBA Annual Awards commenced at 2 pm.
Scottie Thompson beats Mikey Williams for the Best Player of the Conference after a superb run in the Governor’s cup.
Williams also wound up second in the BPC race in both the Philippine Cup and Governor’s Cup.
The other MVP contenders included Northport’s Robert Bolick and Magnolia’s Calvin Abueva.
Abueva nailed the BPC award in the all-Filipino tournament and pulled Hotshots to the finals, while Bolick topped the season in statistical points, although the Batang Pier failed to make past the quarterfinals.
However, Thompson parted himself from the group, as he is only player in the past season to win BPC, Finals MVP, and a championship.
He is the first Ginebra player and first guard to bag MVP honors since Mark Caguioa achieved the feat in the 2011-2012 season.
Thompson also made the Mythical First Team for the first time in his profession together with Williams, Abueva, San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo, and Northport’s Arwind Santos.
Meanwhile, Bolick bannered the Mythical Second Team that also featured San Miguel’s CJ Perez, Phoenix’s Matthew Wright, Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger, and Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang.
The Top Rookie
In spite of falling short several times the past season, Williams attested to be clear-cut winner for the Rookie of the Year award.
Williams beat fellow PBA newcomers Jamie Malonzo(Northport), Santi Santillan and Andrei Caracut(Rain or Shine), and Jerick Ahanmisi(Magnolia) in mudslide style.
The Most Improved Player trophy was given to Terrafirma’s Juami Tiongson, while Kevin Alas(NLEX) took the Sportsmanship Award.
Completing the sets of awardees were the All-Defensive team of Santos, Meralco’s Cliff Hodge, TNT’s Kelly Williams, Magnolia’s Jio Jalalon, and San Miguel’s Chris Ross.
The winners were awarded with The Leo, named in honor of the league’s first commissioner, Leo Prieto.