By REYNALD MAGALLON
San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo led the Best Player of the Conference race while Meralco import Su Braimoh paced the leaderboard for the Best Import plum through the first half of the 2023 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Fresh off a record extending seventh-straight Most Valuable Player award, Fajardo led the league so far with 43.3 average statistical points built on league-best 11.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks along with 19.3 points, 3.0 assists and 1.0 steals.
He beat Barangay Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger and teammate CJ Perez for the pole position. The Kings big man came in second with 42.8SPs on average 19.4 points, 11.6 boards, 5.6 assists and 1.2 steals while Perez amassed 40.3 SPS on 20.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals.
Despite the solid start to the conference, Fajardo might not be able to keep his lead in the BPC race after already missing a game for SMB and could be sidelined for more after being diagnosed with a hand fracture that will keep him on the sick bay for four to six weeks.
That opened an opportunity not just for Standhardinger and Perez, but also to No.4 Maverick Ahanmisi of Ginebra and No.5 Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort, to move further up the ladder.
Ahanmisi proved to be tailor fit for the Kings averaging 15.8 points. 8.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.4 steals for 37.2 SPs while Tolentino, who topped the league scoring with 22.5 points per contest and was behind the Batang Pier’s 5-2 start, wound up with 35.5 SPs.
Just like Fajardo, Braimoh who was at the forefront of the Best Import race with 50 SPs could be relinquishing his top spot after suffering an Achilles injury.
With the Bolts import out, second-running Venky Jois of NorthPort and No.3 Johnathan William and Phoenix could be making their way up the leaderboard especially since both reinforcements are big part of their respective team’s hot starts.
Jois collected 54.7 SPs while Williams had 53.7 SPs to go up ahead Tyler Bey of the league leading Magnolia with 53.2 SPs and top scorer Rondae Hollis-Jefferson of TNT with 33.3 points per game to power his 50.3 SPs.