Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee and San Miguel Beer’s Renaldo Balkman are expected to give voters a hard time in choosing which of the two deserves to win the Best Player of the Conference award in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Brownlee topped all imports after the semis with 54.46 Statistical Points while Balkman is in second at 51.0 SPs, but the manner of how they led their teams to the finals of the midseason tournament could make this one of the closest races in recent memory.
The Best Import and Best Player of the Conference awards will be given before Game 4 of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals between Ginebra and San Miguel on Aug. 3 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Balkman’s teammate June Mar Fajardo is on pace to win a record seventh BPC plum after the Beermen beat his closest rival Vic Manuel and the Alaska Aces in the semifinals.
Forty percent of the Statistical Points will be used to determine the winner of both awards while the rest are votes from the media (30%), players (25%) and the PBA Commissioner’s Office (5%).
Both Brownlee and Balkman have valid reasons to be given the right to take home the Best Import plaque.
Brownlee replaced Charles Garcia five games into the conference, helping Ginebra overcome a 1-5 start to reach the finals for the third time in four PBA stints.
The 30-year-old averaged 28.1 points, 12.5 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks in 13 games this conference.
He made a strong case on the big stage Friday when he sizzled for 42 points on 17-of-19 shooting as Ginebra walloped San Miguel, 127-99, in the series opener at the Big Dome.
Balkman, on the other hand, arrived after the third game of the conference and also played a big part in the Beermen’s recovery from a 0-3 start and advance to the finals for the seventh time in three seasons.
The former NBA player whose return came after his lifetime ban from the PBA was lifted earlier this year posted 28.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 2.2 blocks in 15 games for the Beermen.
Balkman had 27 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks in his PBA Finals debut.