Many had pegged Justin Chua of Phoenix Super LPG to win the PBA Season 45 Most Improved Player award.
After all, the seven-year pro had averaged a league-leading 1.73 blocks to go along with 13.18 points, 6.82 rebounds, and 1.82 assists per game inside the PBA bubble. The 6-foot-6 big man out of Ateneo was also the rock of the Fuel Masters’ semis finish.
Last season, Chua posted numbers of 8.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game.
But as the winner was announced Sunday evening during a special virtual awarding ceremony, Prince Caperal of Ginebra was proclaimed as the season’s MIP.
Caperal, a six-year pro, normed 9.64 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in the bubble. The 6-foot-7 big filled up the shoes left by Greg Slaughter in Ginebra’s championship run.
The product of Arellano only averaged 1.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in Season 44.
Caperal won by the thinnest of margins, though.
How close was it? It came down to 351 points.
|PBA SEASON 45 MOST IMPROVED PLAYER|
Unlike the rest of the awards, stats don’t matter in the Most Improved Player race – only the votes of the press, players, and PBA office counted.
The majority of the PBA Press Corps voted for Chua, which netted him 2,000 points. Meanwhile, a minority voted for Caperal, who garnered 303 points.
Balancing it out was the PBA office that voted for Caperal, which netted 2,000.
The players were split, though, with 144 going to Caperal while 96 went to Chua. That resulted in a 2,447-2,096 win for the Gin King.
Yes, the Most Improved Player race was that close.