Williams Has MVP Award Within Sight

On: 21 February 2008

By Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 21 February 2008

From Rookie of the Year, Kelly Williams is leading the Best Player of the Conference race and has primed himself for the Most Valuable Player award as well.

The 6-foot-7 Sta. Lucia Realty forward will most likely win the Player of the Conference award slated to be handed out on Friday in Game 4 of the Smart PBA Philippine Cup's title series after getting overwhelming support from the media.

Sta. Lucia has gone 2-0 up on the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants mainly because of the heroics of Williams, last year's top draft pick who has provided not just scoring, rebounding and defense but all the intangibles not reflected on the stats sheets.

Williams averaged team-best marks of 17.9 points and 11 rebounds in the first 25 games of the Realtors before tossing in 23 a night in the first two games of the Finals.

And recent history favors Williams in the MVP race, as nine of the last 10 winners of the trophy have come from the all-Filipino champion.

Members of the covering press deliberated on their consensus for the award on Wednesday, with Williams gaining an overwhelming majority over Alaska's Willie Miller and Purefoods' Kerby Raymundo.

Detroit native

Williams, the Detroit native, finished second in the statistical points race behind Air21s Arwind Santos, whose chances to bag the coveted award died right after the Express failed to make it past the wildcard phase.

Asi Taulava of Coca-Cola, which also bowed out in the wildcard, was the other candidate with Purefoods' James Yap, the MVP in 2006, failing to qualify after missing a slot in the Top 5.

Winning the Best Player of the Conference award would make Williams an automatic candidate for the season-ending MVP award and doing so would put him in a class all by himself.

No Rookie of the Year in the 33-year history of the league has ever won the MVP trophy the following season. Even four-time MVPs Ramon Fernandez and Alvin Patrimonio failed to pull off the trick.

Benjie Paras owns the distinction of being the league's only ROY and MVP in the same year, winning both trophies with Shell in 1989.

Miller, a two-time MVP, won his first MVP in 2000 while with Red Bull, a year after joining the Philippine Basketball Association.

But the Alaska dynamo was disqualified from winning the Rookie of the Year trophy the year before, having played professionally two years before in the defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association.

Top rookie

Meanwhile, Welcoat's Joe Devance, the No. 1 pick in the Draft, was the top rookie, finishing in 16th overall and pacing Sta. Lucia's Ryan Reyes in the newcomers' department. The 6-foot-9 center averaged 16.1 points and seven rebounds for 26 SPs a night.

Reyes was just two rungs behind in 18th with 25.7 SPs a game and the next rookie, Ronjay Buenafe of Coca-Cola, was in 43rd place with 20.6 SPs a game.

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