The Philippine Basketball Association reverted to its three-conference format prior to the start of the 2010 season. This provided more opportunities to win a championship and more chances for the top players to prove their supremacy. Marked by the leadership of Commissioner Chito Salud, there were four different league Most Valuable Players. But by dissecting their ascent as the PBA’s top baller, their paths don’t hold equal weight.
Don’t get me wrong, winning the most prestigious individual award matters. But when you consider other personal and team achievements such as championships, Best Player of the Conference trophies, or All-Defensive Team inclusions, these provide a stronger support to the claim. Thus, here’s how we ranked the PBA MVPs from 2011 to 2015.
5) Mark Caguioa – Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, 2011-12
Season averages (41 total games): 19.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists per game
Three years after teammate Jayjay Helterbrand won the award, it was The Spark’s turn on the limelight, which lends more credibility to their claim as arguably the best PBA backcourt tandem of all time. While he was named Best Player of the Conference in both the 2012 Commissioner’s and Governor’s Cup, he is fifth on this list due to lack of Finals appearances in that season.
As a fourth seed, they were swept by Rain or Shine in two games during the quarterfinals of the 2011-12 Philippine Cup. Their fortunes improved a bit during the Commissioner’s Cup, but they were eliminated by eventual champion B-Meg in four semifinal games. Caguioa and the Gin Kings were one game away from the Governor’s Cup Finals but were edged by B-Meg in the playoff, 74-72.
4) June Mar Fajardo – Petron/San Miguel, 2013-14
Season averages (37 total games): 16.8 points, 14.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.1 blocks per game
After a promising rookie season, Fajardo takes the summit of Philippine basketball with his first of four (and counting) MVP awards. His monumental rise also gave him the Most Improved Player award. The Kraken was also hailed as the best player of the 2013-14 Philippine Cup and a member of the PBA All-Defensive Team. But just like Caguioa, he failed to win a title because San Mig Coffee clinched a grand slam. The Beermen’s exits were dismal for their caliber too.
They were outclassed by Rain or Shine in the semifinals of the 2013-14 Philippine Cup. Worse, they squandered a twice-to-beat advantage against Air 21 to be eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup. The title drought rolled through the Governor’s Cup when the Beermen were bounced by the Coffee Mixers in the first round of the playoffs, 97-90. Now, Fajardo is the undisputed king of the PBA – and who knows how many MVP trophies he will end up with.
3) Arwind Santos – Petron Blaze Boosters, 2012-2013
Season averages (52 total games): 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.0 steal, 1.0 block per game
Before Fajardo’s maturity, Santos was the top local player of Petron. He was hailed as the best player of the 2013 Governor’s Cup, where the Beermen lost the championship to San Mig Coffee in a series that went the distance. Aside from that, he was named to the PBA All-Defensive Team and was also the All-Star Game MVP. However, the Blaze Boosters performed poorly in the first two conferences.
Despite being the third seed, Petron was dominated by the Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters in two games during the Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals. Their fate in the season-opening Philippine Cup also ended in the quarterfinals when they were edged by second seed San Mig Coffee, 92-87.
2) June Mar Fajardo – San Miguel Beermen, 2014-15
Season averages (54 total games): 17.4 points, 12.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.7 blocks per game
This was the year The Kraken solidified his claim as the best player in the PBA, and he’s got the haul to show for it. He won his second Best Player of the Conference award en route to the first of four consecutive Philippine Cup titles for the Beermen via a seven-game series against Alaska. He also won the BPC and the crown during the 2015 Governor’s Cup before being named Finals Most Valuable Player after sweeping the Aces in four.
Aside from starting the third great dynasty in franchise history, Fajardo capped off a great season by winning Defensive Player of the Year, which automatically included him in the All-Defensive Team. He also collected the PBA Sportsmanship Award in the same season. There’s no arguing to his ranking given the achievements he attained in just his third season in the Philippine Basketball Association.
1) Jimmy Alapag – Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters, 2010-11
Season averages (63 total games): 12.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists per game
Alapag proved that height is not might when it comes to basketball. You cannot argue his importance to the Tropang Texters’ near dance with history even though his season stats were not on par with the other MVPs. After clinching the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup titles against San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra, respectively, The Mighty Mouse fell one win short of a grand slam against the Petron Blaze Boosters.
In a season where his squad reached the finals in all three conferences, The Mighty Mouse saved the best in the grandest stages when he was named co-Finals MVP with Jayson Castro in the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cups. Alapag was also the best local player during the Commissioner’s Cup and was named to his ninth All-Star selection. Fajardo can make a strong case for the top spot but it’s hard to go against a player who led his squad in the cusp of basketball immortality.