This list could make up Gilas Pilipinas' starting five.
Barely a week since Ginebra lorded over the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the season-ending Governors’ Cup begin on Sunday.
Familiar faces in KJ McDaniels (Meralco), Michael Qualls (Rain or Shine), and Cameron Clark (San Miguel Beer) return for another tour of duty in the first play-for-pay league in Asia. Newcomers like Jonathan Simmons (NLEX) and Jalen Hudson (TNT), meanwhile, will have to learn how to infuse rugby into basketball.
But while it is an import-laden conference, locals also stood out in the PBA Governors’ Cup. Here are the last five awardees of the season-ending Best Player of the Conference plum.
Jayson Castro, TNT Katropa (2015-16 Governors’ Cup)
The two-time best point guard in Asia was still at the peak of his powers (he can still be great whenever he decides to be) in 2016. He bested June Mar Fajardo in the battle for the highest individual plum as he led TNT to the top spot after the elimination round with a 10-1 record.
Meralco, though, beat TNT in the best-of-five semifinals, 3-1. Castro averaged 22.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in that series.
Greg Slaughter, Ginebra Gin Kings (2016-17 Governors’ Cup)
A healthy Greg Slaughter is a fearsome Greg Slaughter. Coming off an injury, Gregzilla played a key role in Ginebra's road to the Finals and amassed 975 points to edge Chris Newsome, Fajardo, and Castro in the BPC race.
What’s more, Ginebra won it all that conference against Allen Durham’s Meralco Bolts.
Paul Lee, Magnolia Hotshots (2017-18 Governors’ Cup)
As great a player as he’s been, this is Paul Lee’s lone BPC award. Like Slaughter, Lee has been riddled with injuries. But a healthy Lee is a lethal scorer with the clutch genes.
No wonder the Hotshots emerged as champions that conference with Romeo Travis as import and a strong cast of locals led by Lee.
Christian Standhardinger, NorthPort Batang Pier (2019 Governors’ Cup)
At San Miguel, Standhardinger had to play in the shadows of 6-time MVP June Mar Fajardo. So when he was traded to NorthPort four games into the conference, the Fil-German player wasted no time in going berserk and steered the Batang Pier to the semifinals.
He’s the first from NorthPort to win a BPC award.
Scottie Thompson, Ginebra Gin Kings (2021 Governors’ Cup)
The do-it-all guard broke out in the quarterfinals when the Gin Kings overcame TNT’s twice-to-beat advantage where. He even exploded for 23 points on top of 15 rebounds and 8 assists in their first meeting in the quarterfinals.
Through 13 games, he normed 13.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 6.4 assists and continued his stellar play all the way to the Finals.
He was adjudged the Finals MVP when they disposed of rival Meralco.