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PBA: Fajardo still leads BPC race

JUNEMAR Fajardo and Beau Belga

Despite the elimination of Petron Blaze in the playoffs, center June Mar Fajardo remains on track for the coveted Best Player of the Conference (BPC) trophy as he maintained his lead in the Statistical Points (SP) department in the 2014 PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup.

The 6-foot-10 sophomore, the No. 1 overall pick during the 2012 Rookie Draft, sustained his lead after the semifinal round of the playoffs, even as the Boosters were booted out by Rain or Shine in their best-of-seven series.

Fajardo, 24, finished with a SP average of 38.8 points, after norming almost 17 points, a league-best 14.8 rebounds and 2.5 shot blocks per game in this all-Filipino conference. The former University of Cebu stalwart and Gilas Pilipinas member is eyeing his first BPC award.

The other official contenders include Fajardo’s Petron teammate, reigning MVP Arwind Santos, Garangay Ginebra San Miguel’s “twin towers” Japeth Aguilar and rookie Greg Slaughter, and Globaport’s Jay Washington.

Santos has 35.8 SP, followed by Aguilar, who struggled in the semifinal series as Ginebra lost in seven games opposite San Mig Super Coffee, with 35.2 SP. At fourth is Washington with 34.5 PS and Slaughter at No. 5 with 33.6 SP.

While Aguilar and Slaughter are both aiming for their first BPC like Fajardo, Santos and Washington – former teammates at Petron and San Miguel Beer – are aiming for a third and a second BPC plum, respectively.

Aside from the SP, the BPC winner will be determined by votes from PBA officials, players and the sports media. The all-Filipino BPC winner will be announced before Game 4 of the Rain or Shine-San Mig Coffee series on Feb. 21.

Last season’s Philippine Cup BPC Jayson Castro of Talk ’N Text failed to make the Top 5 as he placed sixth overall with 32.2 SP, while not a single player from Rain or Shine made it to the Top 20, proving how well-balanced the team is under coach Yeng Guiao.

As for San Mig, the only player in the Top 10 is Mark Barroca, who placed No. 8 with 29.0 SP, while joining him in Top 20 are Marc Jean Pingris with 27.6 SP and PJ Simon with 25.8 SP.

Also in the Top 20 are Sonny Thoss of Alaska (30.1), Asi Taulava of Air21 (29.7), Solomon Mercado of Globalport (28.7), TNT’s Ranidel de Ocampo (28.5), LA Tenorio of Ginebra (28.0), Petron’s Alex Cabagnot (27.06), Nino Canaleta of Air21 (27.059), Petron’s Marcio Lassiter (27.050), Gabby Espinas of Alaska (26.5), Air21’s Joseph Yeo (26.3) and Gary David of Meralco (26.2). (Waylon Galvez)