SMB, Ginebra duos engage in PBA MVP race

June Mar Fajardo is the current frontrunner for the PBA MVP. Dennis Acosta (file photo) 
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Two stars from each of Ginebra and San Miguel are on the shortlist for the 2023 PBA MVP award.

As revealed late Monday night, the Beermen's tandem of June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez and the Gin Kings' stellar duo of Scottie Thompson and Christian Standhardinger are the final nominees for the league's top individual prize.

Thompson, the 2022 MVP, looks to make it back-to-back, while Fajardo, who led the statistical points race with 40.2 average SPs, aims to reclaim the title away from Thompson after the high-flying guard snapped the star center's streak of six straight MVP awards.

Winning the award during the season-ending Governors' Cup, Standhardinger is the only other Best Player of the Conference in the field aside from Philippine Cup winner Fajardo and Commissioner's Cup BPC Thompson.

Being a BPC winner guarantees an MVP nomination as long as the player also meets the needed number of games to be eligible for an individual award, which is at least 70 percent of his team's total games last season.

Perez entered the MVP race after finishing second in the SP race with 36.1 SPs, just behind Fajardo, while Thompson (35.5) and Standhardinger (33.6) came in third and fourth, respectively, among the eligible candidates.

The four MVP nominees also headline the players in consideration for the mythical selections.

Among the guards, former Converge star Maverick Ahanmisi, who recently signed with Ginebra, NLEX's Kevin Alas, Magnolia's Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, and Paul Lee, Meralco's Aaron Black, former NorthPort star Robert Bolick, who is now a free agent after leaving B.League second division team Fukushima, and TNT's Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy, and Mikey Williams join Thompson and Perez in the Mythical Team race.

Among the forwards and centers, Hotshot Calvin Abueva, Gin King Jamie Malonzo, the Tropang Giga's Calvin Oftana, new Beerman Jeron Teng, also formerly of the FiberXers, Batang Pier Arvin Tolentino, and Road Warrior Don Trollano round up the Mythical Team nominees list aside from Fajardo and Standhardinger.

Ahanmisi, Malonzo, Tolentino, and Trollano made up the Most Improved Player nomination list along with Blackwater's RK Ilagan.

On the other hand, Alas, Black, Castro, Fajardo, and Thompson are on the Sportsmanship Award list along with Batang Pier Paul Zamar.

The said awards will be handed out during the Leo Awards that will take place during the opening ceremonies of the new PBA season on Nov. 5 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

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