Phoenix Super LPG star Matthew Wright has made a strong case to become the best player of the PBA bubble after topping the Statistical Points race through the end of the Philippine Cup eliminations.
Wright, coming off a heroic performance in the Fuel Masters’ 89-88 win over the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in Saturday’s quarterfinals, compiled 39.5 Statistical Points in 11 games of the elims to emerge as the frontrunner in the derby.
The fourth-year standout averaged 22.8 points on a 44.5 percent shooting with 5.4 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.4 steals while playing all 11 games that saw Phoenix post an 8-3 record.
His chances of receiving whatever award the PBA will decide later on increased after hitting a running three with 9.8 seconds left that sent Phoenix to the best-of-five semifinals against TNT.
TNT and Phoenix begin their showdown on Wednesday while the other semis pairing pitting Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the winner of Sunday’s knockout quarterfinal between defending champion San Miguel Beer and Meralco will also start on the same day.
The semifinals is expected to be the final chance for candidates to prove their worth before the results are determined.
Terrafirma’s CJ Perez is ranked second with 35.7 SPs, Wright’s teammate Jason Perkins is third at 35.5 SPs. TNT’s Ray Parks Jr. is fourth (35.2) while NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger placed fifth (34.6).
But the respective teams’ struggles inside Smart Clark Giga City will likely hurt Perez and Standhardinger after Terrafirma and NorthPort shared the league’s worst record with identical 1-10 records.
That makes Perkins and Parks as the closest pursuer in Wright’s bid. Perkins averaged 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds while Parks produced 20.1 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 10 games for TNT.
Rounding out the top 10 are TNT’s RR Pogoy (34.3) and Jayson Castro (33.6), Ginebra’s Stanley Pringle (33.3) and Scottie Thompson (33.2) and San Miguel’s Mo Tautuaa (33.0).
The league has yet to determine the awards that will be given to its top performers since only one conference was played in the 45th season that was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It may be practical that the league hands out the coveted Most Valuable Player to the best player of the Philippine Cup given the pandemic that forced the PBA to shorten the season from the traditional three-conference schedule.