Magnolia teammates Calvin Abueva (left) and Ian Sangalang (Photos from PBA)

The race for the Best Player of the Conference in the PBA Philippine Cup has turned into a two-way battle between Magnolia Pambansang Manok teammates Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang.

Abueva maintained his lead at the end of the semifinals with 34.2 Statistical Points but Sangalang’s consistent play in the Hotshots’ six-game triumph over the Meralco Bolts allowed him to jump to third place at 33.0.

Sangalang was ranked fifth in SPs at the end of the quarterfinals before averaging 16.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists in the semis to put himself in strong consideration for the award.

He’s barely behind NorthPort’s Robert Bolick, who moved to second spot with 33.7 Statistical Points. But Bolick’s chances of taking the award are dim after the Batang Pier were swept by the San Miguel Beermen in the quarterfinals.

TNT rookie Mikey Williams fell from second to fourth with 32.0 SPs after struggling for most of his team’s seven-game semis duel against San Miguel Beer.

He did make up for his slump when it mattered, posting 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Tropang Giga beat the Beermen, 97-79, in Game 7 last Sunday, Oct. 17.

June Mar Fajardo of SMB completed the top five with 31.8 SPs with help from 15 double-doubles he compiled this conference.

It will be interesting to see how things will play out as Abueva and Sangalang once contended for the Most Valuable Player award while forming the “Pinatubo Trio” with Ronald Pascual at San Sebastian in the NCAA back in 2012.

Abueva was a cinch to win it that year after topping the Statistical Points at the end of the first round, only to be disqualified from winning any individual award after being slapped with a one-game suspension during the elimination round.

Sangalang wound up bagging the MVP that year for having the best SP ranking outside of Abueva, who could only settle for recording of an average a triple-double in points, rebounds and assists in his final NCAA campaign.