Three other stars could stop June Mar Fajardo from rewriting PBA record books in what could be a tight race for the PBA Season 44 Most Valuable Player award.
The San Miguel center has a shot at extending his record streak as league MVP to an unprecedented sixth straight year, but he'll have to edge out TNT's Jayson Castro, Columbian's CJ Perez and NorthPort's Christian Standhardinger in order to do so.
Standhardinger was a recent awardee of the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award after emerging as the top local in the season-ending Governors' Cup, while Castro won the same award during the KaTropa's finals campaign in the Commissioner's Cup. Fajardo copped the BPC plum in the Philippine Cup.
Perez, though, made a compelling case to be in the conversation by gathering 33.47 SPs, which is second behind Fajardo's 39.6. The super rookie also contended for the BPC award in two conferences and paced all locals in scoring this season with 20.8 points per game.
Castro sat at no. 6 with 31.5 SPs, while Standhardinger accumulated 26.7 and was at 16th.
Standhardinger's Batang Pier teammate Sean Anthony (33.46) and Ginebra's Stanley Pringle (31.8) followed Fajardo and Perez in the stats leaderboard, while Castro's backcourt partner RR Pogoy (31.7) rounded out the top five.
Completing the top 10 are Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar (29.9), Phoenix's Matthew Wright (29.0), Magnolia's Ian Sangalang (28.7) and SMB's Moala Tautuaa (27.5).
The top 25 players are also in the running for a spot in the Mythical First and Second Team.
Aside from the aforementioned 10, included in the race are Troy Rosario (TNT), Scottie Thompson (Ginebra), Alex Cabagnot (SMB), Robert Bolick (NorthPort), Rashawn McCarthy (Columbian), Jeron Teng (Alaska), Chris Ross (SMB), Paul Lee (Magnolia), LA Tenorio (Ginebra), Poy Erram (NLEX), Chris Banchero (Magnolia), Arwind Santos (SMB) and Greg Slaughter (Ginebra).
In the Rookie of the Year race, Perez is a favorite to win the award but is still also challenged by Bolick, Rain or Shine's Javee Mocon and TNT's Ray Parks.
The winners will be hailed during the Leo Awards, which will be held before the PBA Season 45 inaugural ceremonies on March 1. Also set to be awarded are contenders for the Most Improved Player, the Sportsmanship Award and the All-Defensive team.