Justin Chua’s breakthrough performance in the bubble was finally recognized after formally receiving the Top D-Fender plum in the PBA Press Corps Awards Night held Sunday, March 7, 2021.
The Phoenix Super LPG center was named as the best defender of the Philippine Cup bubble by scribes, more than a month after falling short of claiming the Most Improved Player in the PBA Awards Night.
No one was happy with Chua winning the award more than his now-former teammate Calvin Abueva, a fellow member of the All-Defensive Team.
Abueva, who was recently traded to Magnolia, joked that he and Chua should split the award in half, prompting the latter to make a slicing gesture in jest.
“Justin, sa ating dalawang tong award na to,” Abueva told Chua during the virtual awards session participated by awardees and PBA beat writers who attended by Zoom.
The 6-foot-6 southpaw became one of the reasons why Phoenix came close to advancing to its first Finals appearance with his play on the defensive end.
Chua was the bubble’s surprise leader in blocks with an average of 1.6 in 17 games in the lone conference of the PBA’s 45th season.
He and Abueva joined San Miguel Beer’s Chris Ross, ex-NorthPort star Christian Standhardinger who was dealt several days ago to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia’s Mark Barroca.