Cj Perez, Christian Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., and Japeth Aguilar
Jun Mendoza/ Miguel De Guzman
Heirs to the throne
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - February 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With the June Mar Fajardo Show on hold, the spotlight is ready to shine on the next most dominant performer in the PBA.

Fajardo, the reigning five-time MVP, is sidelined indefinitely by a fractured shin, and there’s a long line of marquee players highly capable of taking the mantle in the league’s coming Season 45 hostilities.

There’s youthful sensation CJ Perez of Columbian Dyip, who during his rookie season already created waves.  Perez finished second overall behind Fajardo in the statistical points race for Season MVP, emerging as scoring champion with a 20.8-point average complemented by 7.4 rebounds (No. 7), 3.4 assists (No. 20) and 1.9 steals (No. 3).

Explosive guard Stanley Pringle, who joined Ginebra in the mid-season and collared his first championship in the recent Governors’ Cup, is there as well. Pringle ranked third in SPs as he normed 17 markers, 4.27 feeds and 1.5 steals, and is tipped to play a major role in the Gin Kings’ title drive this year.

High expectations also fall on NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger, who is fresh from winning the Governors’ Cup Best Player of the Conference plum. Traded by San Miguel to the Batang Pier in the third conference, Standhardinger wasted little time proving his worth as a premier big man, logging norms of 17.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.2 steal in the season ender.

TNT KaTropa’s Ray Parks, whom team manager Gabby Cui described as an “NBA talent” who has yet to unravel his full potential, may be in for a breakout. Parks topped the statistical race for BPC in the Commissioner’s Cup, where he posted averages of 22.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks for Blackwater. When he joined TNT, the two-time UAAP MVP had averages of 12.2 markers, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in nine games.

For coaches Bong Ravena and Chito Victolero, big men will primarily shine brightest in a league without Fajardo.

“It will be Standhardinger and Tautuaa,” TNT’s Ravena said.

Tautuaa, whom SMB acquired in exchange for Standhardinger in the Governors Cup, has been thrust into the limelight as San Miguel’s chief slotman in place of Fajardo. The Fil-Tongan averaged 14 points and seven caroms in 2019.

“Ian Sangalang and Jack Corpuz,” said Magnolia’s Victolero, choosing his own frontline tandem.

Ginebra’s high-flying big Japeth Aguilar, who earned Finals MVP honors, is also expected to continue to soar, especially with the other half of the Gin Kings twin tower, Greg Slaughter, on sabbatical.

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