The race for Most Valuable Player of the Philippine Basketball Association had turned into a fierce duel between two of the best players of this generation: June Mar Fajardo and Scottie Thompson.
Fajardo and Thompson emerged as the top contenders for the league’s most coveted individual award after leading the statistical derby heading into the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo is on his way to his seventh MVP plum after leading the race with 28.9 statistical points following an impressive performance in the Philippine Cup in which he led San Miguel Beer to the title over TNT Tropang Giga.
But clinching the MVP crown is easier said than done.
Trailing Fajardo is Thompson, the league’s reigning MVP who leapfrogged to No. 2 and dislodged Fajardo’s teammate, CJ Perez, with 24.9 SPs after powering Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to the Commissioner’s Cup title over visiting Bay Area early this month.
The 29-year-old Thompson also clinched the Best Player of the Conference title of the midseason conference that boosted his chances for a back-to-back MVP trophy.
Perez, for his part, fell to the third spot but remains very much in contention with a total of 24.6 SPs.
At No. 4 is Robert Bolick of NorthPort with 23.2 SPs while another King in Jamie Malonzo pulled off a surprise when barged into No. 5 after collecting 21.9 SPs following their title run.
Another Ginebra star in Christian Standhardinger — the MVP of the Commissioner’s Cup finals — is at No. 6 with 21.1 SPs while sophomore Mikey Williams of TNT is at No. 7 with 20.6 SPs.
Japeth Aguilar is the fourth Ginebra player to be in the top 10 as he is at eighth spot with 20.4 SPs while Don Trollano of NLEX and Roger Pogoy of TNT round out the 10 frontrunners with 20.30 SPs and 20.28 SPs, respectively.