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MANILA, Philippines – Bridesmaid no more.
CJ Perez captured his maiden Best Player of the Conference award on Friday, February 9, behind a steady campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that saw him key San Miguel to another finals appearance.
After falling short of the award multiple times in previous conferences, the fierce guard broke through as he edged two-time winner Christian Standhardinger of Barangay Ginebra.
Perez averaged 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.9 assists in 15 games through the semifinals, serving as a stabilizing presence for a Beermen side that dealt with injuries to key personnel and an import switch.
The Gilas Pilipinas mainstay delivered for San Miguel when seven-time MVP June Mar Fajardo missed the second half of the elimination round due to a hand injury then figured prominently in their semifinal sweep of the Gin Kings.
He averaged 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1.7 steals as the Beermen blanked Ginebra in their best-of-five semifinals to reach the finals on a nine-game winning streak.
A consistent force, Perez scored in double figures in all but one of their 15 games through the semifinals, at least 15 points in 10 games, and at least 20 points in five games.
Standhardinger made a strong case for what would have been his third BPC plum as he topped all locals in the statistical battle with averages of 16.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 5 assists in 15 games through the semifinals.
A third BPC award would have tied Standhardinger with retired icons Alvin Patrimonio, Vergel Meneses, Eric Menk, and Mark Caguioa. Only June Mar Fajardo (9), Jayson Castro (5), and Danny Ildefonso (5) have more BPC wins.
The Filipino-German big man, though, got contained offensively in the semifinals – putting up 13.3 points with 11 rebounds and 3.3 assists – as the Gin Kings got swept in a best-of-five series for the first time since 2013.
Nevertheless, Standhardinger showed the way for a Ginebra side reeling from the sudden absence of resident import Justin Brownlee, posting eight double-doubles.
Meanwhile, Arvin Tolentino of NorthPort finished third in the BPC race followed by Calvin Oftana of TNT and two-time winner Scottie Thompson of Ginebra. – Rappler.com