By Jonas Terrado
San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo and Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario of TNT KaTropa are strong contenders to win the PBA Press Conference Finals Most Valuable Player award, provided their teams end up as Commissioner’s Cup champions.
Fajardo is making a strong case in the ongoing Finals, averaging 21.0 points on .583 shooting with 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists through four games. His numbers came despite a 4-of-15 clip for 12 points in SMB’s 127-125 double overtime win in Game 2.
He bounced back with 27 points in the Beermen’s 115-105 loss in Game 3 and 22 in the 106-101 win in Game 4.
The 6-foot-10 center already has three Finals MVPs, one shy of tying Danny Seigle and James Yap for the most numbers of awards won. Fajardo earned the nod last conference when the Beermen claimed their fifth straight Philippine Cup.
Castro, the Best Player of the Conference, and Rosario could have their names called if TNT finally snaps a four-year title drought.
Castro posted 19.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.0 steals for TNT entering Game 5 while Rosario is the KaTropa’s top scorer of the Finals at 21.0 per contest.
Rosario has a .516 shooting percentage thanks to 14 made threes in the series. He hit eight during TNT’s heartbreaking defeat in Game 2.
Castro is a two-time winner, sharing the honors with Jimmy Alapag both times in the 2011 Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup while Rosario is eyeing his fifth.
Other players from both teams have outside chances of picking the award if they produce important roles for the remainder of the Finals.
SMB’s Alex Cabagnot has had an up-and-down series but has posted 12.5 points on .418 shooting with 3.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.3 steals. Cabagnot was Finals MVP when the Beermen beat the KaTropa in the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup.
Teammate Chris Ross has won it twice (2016 and 2017 Philippine Cup) and has a solid case to claim a third with averages of 11.0 points on a 50-percent clip, 4.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 4.0 steals.
Terrence Romeo also has a potential to decide the outcome of the series based on his offensive production.
Already in his second Finals since being acquired from TNT in December, Romeo has produced 14.3 points on .524 shooting highlighted by a 29-point showing in Game 2.
Over at TNT, Roger Pogoy posted 17.0 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals, though his three-point shooting has been suspect at times as evident with his 4-of-16 clip he had in the KaTropa’s losses in Games 2 and 4.
Don Trollano’s sudden rise from obscurity may result in a Finals MVP plum if he can amped up his averages of 14.8 points on .561 shooting, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 steals.
Trollano has become more than a just role player for the KaTropa with his ability to pick up offensive rebounds and knack for hitting corner threes.