For his incredible improvement from being just a playmaker/defender to a do-it-all lethal weapon, Chris Ross beat out San Miguel backcourt partner Alex Cabagnot in the closest Best Player of the Conference slugfest ever.
Rhodes and Ross leaned on the balloting to win their awards. They were awarded their plaques before Game Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ross bagged the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup BPC plum and thus also virtually put a lock on the Most Improved Player award to be handed out in the season-end awards rites.
The former Marshall U player, the No. 4 draft selection by Burger King in 2009 who bounced around the league before settling down at SMB, has been on a roll since winning the 2016 PBA Philippine Cup Finals MVP award.
He also won the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year award and struck with another Finals MVP plum in the 2017 all-Filipino tourney before adding a first BPC trophy in his ballooning treasure chest.
Charles Rhodes made it a virtual twin-kill for SMB as he beat Ricardo Ratliffe, Justin Brownlee and Josh Smith for the Best Import award.
Gaining the nod of the sports media and the PBA office, Ross amassed 1,038 points as against Cabagnot’s 746, Jayson Castro’s 630, June Mar Fajardo’s 530 and Stanley Pringle’s 415.
Castro topped the balloting among the players with 53, with Ross earning 52, Fajardo 40 then Cabagnot with 26.
Rhodes, meanwhile, gained the thumbs-up of the media, his fellow players and the PBA office. He earned 1,174 points, with Ricardo Ratliffe coming in second with 943.
Ross pulled off a come-from-behind feat, banking on explosive games in the semifinals versus the Star Hotshots to catch up with Cabagnot in the lead in the stats race.
The two players finished in a dead heat with similar aggregates of 416 stats points or identical averages of 34.125 an outing.
Ross piled up norms of 13.19 points, 5.19 rebounds, 8.06 assists and 2.9 steals while Cabagnot put in 15.13 markers, 6.56 boards, 5.06 dish-offs and 1.19 steals an outing.
But as the votes came in, Ross emerged victorious, claiming the BPC award that automatically made him an official candidate for the season MVP award.
Fajardo is now in contention for a fourth MVP award, having annexed the BPC plum in the Philippine Cup.