MANILA, Philippines -- It came as no surprise to Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero that Calvin Abueva is leading the race for the PBA's Best Player of the Conference award following the conclusion of the elimination round of the Philippine Cup.
Abueva, the do-it-all forward, put up a league-leading 35.36 average statistical points (SPs) while powering the Hotshots to an 8-3 record and the third seed in the quarterfinals.
He holds a slim lead over TNT rookie Mikey Williams (35.30 SPs) and NorthPort point guard Robert Bolick (35.27 SPs) in statistical points.
Victolero pointed out that this is no surprise as Abueva was also in the running for Best Player honors last year, when he was still suiting up for Phoenix Super LPG. Ginebra's Stanley Pringle eventually won the award.
"Alam naman natin kung gaano kaganda 'yung nilaro ni Calvin. Tinutuloy lang niya ngayong season," said Victolero.
Abueva averaged 16.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game in the elimination round.
But for Victolero, what makes Abueva so deserving of the BPC award is that his efforts for the Hotshots go well beyond what is seen in the stat sheet.
"Maganda lang, he's very consistent on both ends of the floor. The energy, the hustle, not only the rebounds and the score, but other aspect ng stat, like the 50-50 balls, and everything," the coach said.
"So, kung madadagdag siguro 'yun, laking bagay noon talaga sa stat niya," he added. "Si Calvin, he just plays hard, and ang gusto lang naman niyan talaga is magkaroon ng chance doon sa dulo eh."
"Kung sakaling mabigay sa kanya 'yung blessing na 'yun, deserving naman ni Calvin 'yun."
If Abueva goes on to win, it will be his first BPC trophy since the 2016 PBA Commissioner's Cup, when he was still a part of the Alaska Aces.