MANILA, Philippines - The 87th NCAA Most Valuable Player trophy could end up in the hands of either San Sebastian's Calvin Abueva or Ian Sangalang.
Abueva and Sangalang both came through with career performances in leading San Sebastian to a 99-63 rout of Emilio Aguinaldo Monday and to its 10th straight victory while keeping themselves comfortably perched atop the MVP race leaderboard where they are currently first and second, respectively.
Abueva, the 2009 Finals MVP, had his best scoring effort with 34 points while Sangalang, a 6-6 former RP youth standout, came through with a career high 25 boards including another personal best 15 on the offensive end that also nailed them the ACCEL/3XVI NCAA Press Corps Players of the Week plum.
The energetic Abueva's scoring was the highest this season, eclipsing the 32 points poured in by San Beda's Garvo Lanete in a 103-62 win over EAC last July 29.
It is also the highest output by a player in the league since Jose Rizal’s John Wilson, a former league MVP, unloaded 48 points four seasons back.
For Sangalang, his total caroms was this year's best since Letran’s Jam Cortes had 20 in their 76-67 win over EAC last Aug. 12 while his 15 offensive boards was the best since another Letran cager, Jomar Datang, had the same in an 85-84 win also over EAC two years ago.
It was an effort that drew praises from their coach.
"I know they're capable of doing these kinds of efforts, they're really the younger players' sources of strength," said San Sebastian’s rookie coach Topex Robinson referring to the duo of Abueva and Sangalang.
If the MVP award indeed ends up in the possession of Abueva or Sangalang, one of them will be the first one from San Sebastian to do so since former Stag Leo Najorda accomplished the feat eight years ago.
Abueva though appears more concern in winning the title.
"Winning the championship for my team is my top priority, everything else comes second," said Abueva in Filipino.
Challenging Abueva and Sangalang for the MVP plums are Letran's Raymond Almazan and Jam Cortes, San Sebastian's Ronald Pascual, Letran's Kevin Alas and San Beda's Garvo Lanete, San Beda's Dave Marcelo and Jake Pascual and Lyceum's Allan Santos.
It was the second time that Abueva and Sangalang won the weekly plum, which is being presented by ACCEL and 3XVI and supported by Gatorade, since being named in the first round of eliminations.
Among the players that Abueva and Sangalang edged for this year's honor were Mapua’s rookie Fil-Am Josan Nimes and Allan Mangahas, Perpetual Help’s Jet Vidal and Lyceum’s Chris Cayabyab.