MANILA, Philippines – With the PBA Governors' Cup Finals looming, Ginebra center Greg Slaughter and Meralco swingman Chris Newsome refuse to dwell in their standings in the race for the Best Player of the Conference award.
At the end of the elimination round, Slaughter is third in the race with an average of 32.625 statistical points per game, while Newsome is not far behind with 20.875 SPs per game.
San Miguel star June Mar Fajardo continues to pace the standings, with 38.455 SPs per game, with TNT guard Jayson Castro in second place (33.56 SPs per game). However, Slaughter and Newsome's chances of winning the BPC were boosted significantly after they led their respective teams to the Governors' Cup semifinals.
Indeed, it was Slaughter and the Gin Kings who ended the campaigns of both Fajardo's and Castro's teams. Ginebra overpowered San Miguel in the quarterfinals, denying them a chance at a Grand Slam, then outlasted the KaTropa in an ill-tempered semifinals series.
Newsome, meanwhile, has been a steady, versatile presence for a Meralco squad that topped the eliminations and sailed through to the Finals.
The chase for the championship, however, takes precedence over any individual award.
"If I score zero and we win, I'll be happy with that," said Slaughter. "We always look on winning the championship over individual awards."
"The one thing that's important for me is making it back to the Finals," said Newsome, who already has one individual award in his trophy case after winning Rookie of the Year last year. "Now, my top priority is winning the Finals."
Newsome, who like Slaughter was a star at the Ateneo de Manila University in college, did acknowledge that it was good to be considered as one of the candidates for the Best Player award.
"That means I'm playing at the level that I expect to be playing at," he noted.
However, at this point in the season, the BPC trophy is simply not the one that Newsome wants to bring home.
"The individual accolade is not my top priority at the moment," he stressed.
Slaughter, in his first full conference back since a knee injury, has been averaging 14.69 points, 8.75 rebounds, 1.69 assists, and 1.63 blocks per game for the Gin Kings.
Meanwhile, Newsome norms 13.06 points, 6.25 rebounds, and five assists per game for the Bolts.
The Best Player of the Conference award will be revealed ahead of Game 3 of the Governors' Cup Finals.
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