Jan 08, 2021

Chua keeping fingers crossed on Most Improved Player award

JUSTINE Chua doesn't deny how he wish to bag the Most Improved Player award of the PBA.

If it is meant for him, so be it. If not, life goes on for the Phoenix Super LG big man.

"I'm really hoping na sana sa akin mabigay. Or kahit maging finalist or nominee man lang. Malaking bagay yun for me," said the 31-year-old Chua in a recent appearance in the weekly sports program The Chasedown.

"I've been in the league for seven years na, so who have thought na makakakuha pa ako ng award. So sana nga."

The 6-foot-7 center put himself in a perfect position for the yearly award after playing a big role in the Fuel Masters' strong drive for a championship berth in the recent Philippine Cup bubble.

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That has been the goal, according to Chua, although the team fell short in their semifinals series that went the full route, losing to TnT Tropang Giga in five games.

"Yung goal ko talaga is really to make it to the finals and then bahala na kung ano mangyari," he recalled. "Kaya lang we fell short nga, hanggang Game 5 lang (ng semis)."

While Phoenix failed to advance, Chua was among several positives for the franchise during the shortened season.

The slotman out of Ateneo jacked up his production this season, submitting numbers of 11.7 points, 6.7 rebounds, a conference-best 1.6 blocks per game, and shot 37 percent from three-point range, all of which improved from his averages during the previous all-Filipino conference.

He likewise made it to the Top 25 players overall in the statistical points standings, coming in at no. 23 with 26.4 SPs, joining fellow Phoenix teammates Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, and Jason Perkins.

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Those were enough for Chua to be a strong contender for the Most Improved Player award, which he will contest against the likes of Barangay Ginebra's Prince Caperal, Perkins, Javee Mocon of Rain or Shine, Meralco veteran Reynel Hugnatan, and NLEX's Raul Soyud. (RG)