What was earlier a one-sided Best Player of the Conference derby has turned to a three-cornered fight among Christian Standhardinger, Paul Lee and Chris Banchero entering the PBA Governors Cup finals.
Standhardinger paces the stats race but Lee and Banchero have made a case for themselves in leading their teams to the finals in the season-ending tourney.
Meanwhile, the wide-open slugfest for the Best Import award has essentially come down to a virtual one-on-one between Alaska Milk's Mike Harris and Magnolia's Romeo Travis.
Barangay Ginebra's Justin Brownlee, Phoenix Petroleum's Eugene Phelps, Meralco's Allen Durham, NLEX's Aaron Fuller and Blackwater's Henry Walker had all been strong bets until their teams moved out of the title hunt one after another.
Stats-wise, Harris is ahead of Travis with his whopping averages of 30.31 points, 20.69 rebounds, 2.81 assists, 1.13 steals and 1.00 block.
Meanwhile, the Magnolia import, a BPC winner in his previous PBA stint with Alaska Milk, norms 24.5 markers, 14.8 boards, 4.81 dish-offs and 2.0 steals.
Standhardinger is the runaway leader in the stats race among the locals with 41.9 SPs (statistical points) a game. His downside was his inability to get San Miguel Beer even just in the semifinals.
Same is the case for the second-running Stanley Pringle of NorthPort (34).
At third is Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar (32.9), followed by Lee (31.64) and Banchero (31.56).
Banchero was third through the eliminations but dropped down to fifth as his numbers went down with the ankle injury he suffered in their last game in the elims.
But both Lee and Banchero could boost their respective drives in the finals that start Dec. 5 at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
A new BPC winner will emerge since all contenders have yet to win the coveted individual plum.
The final determining factor in the BPC and Best Import derbies is the balloting among the players, the sports media and the PBA Commissioner's Office.
Going into the finals, Lee averages 17.64 points, 4.43 rebounds, 3.14 assists and 1.86 steals while Banchero puts in 14.4 markers, 4.6 boards and tournament-best 7.13 dish-offs and 1.0 steal.
Standhardinger leads the tourney in scoring (22.8) and rebounds (13.4) in a strongest showing by a rookie in a tourney in years.