by Jonas Terrado
Blackwater rookie Ray Parks Jr. is ahead in the Best Player of the Conference race while Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee and TNT KaTropa’s Terrence Jones are locked in a tight battle for the Best Import award in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Parks compiled 37.2 Statistical Points to top the Best Player derby at the end of the quarterfinal phase of the midseason tournament while Brownlee and Jones are 1-2 in the chase for Best Import honors with 61.8 and 60.2 SPs.
The 26-year-old Parks put himself in a good position to become the first rookie since San Miguel Beer’s Danny Seigle did it in the 1999 Governors’ Cup to win Best Player of the Conference honors.
He averaged 22.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals to lead the Elite to a franchise-best 7-4 record and a third seed in the playoffs.
But Blackwater’s failure to reach the semis following its quarterfinal setback to Rain or Shine last Thursday may dim Parks’ chances of claiming the BPC plaque.
No player in PBA history has won the award despite missing the semifinals.
Forty percent of the statistics will be used to determine the winner while remaining 60 percent are votes from the media (30%), players (25%) and the PBA Commissioner’s Office (5%).
Fellow rookie CJ Perez of the Columbian Dyip and and TNT KaTropa’s Jayson Castro are tied for second with 35.1 SPs, eight-time BPC winner June Mar Fajardo of SMB is fourth at 33.8 and RR Pogoy of TNT had 33.2 SPs for fifth.
Meanwhile, his surge late in the eliminations highlighted by a 49-point game against Magnolia and a career-best 50 opposite Columbian propelled Brownlee to the top spot in the Best Import chase.
Brownlee produced 34.2 points, 13.5 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.6 steals and 1.9 blocks for the Kings.
Jones, who had multiple triple-double performances, tallied 32.8 points, 15.8 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.9 steals as TNT gained the top seed in the playoffs with a 10-1 record.
Their teams are currently slugging it out in the best-of-five semifinals with the result and performances of both imports to be considered as a referendum that may determine the winner.