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Rain or Shine teammates Norwood, Mercado running 1-2 in Rookie of the Year race

A rare blood disorder has grounded Kelly Williams for the remainder of the 2009 Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference.

But while he is physically absent from the games, the Sta. Lucia Realty star forward still casts a big shadow to those who aspire for the Most Valuable Player trophy.

At least for now.

The reigning MVP managed to amass as many statistical points before his health deteriorated making him among the top contenders for the league’s highest individual honor.

If he’s lucky enough, Williams could be just the league’s fourth player to win back-to-back MVP plums. Those who achieved the feat were Bogs Adornado (1975-76), Alvin Patrimonio (1993-94) and Danny Ildefonso (2000-01).

As things stand, the 6-foot-4 Fil-Am is still leading the statistical race which comprise 30% of the criteria, with his 32.2 SPs average at the end wildcard phase of the league’s season-ending tournament. Since being diagnosed with the illness during the All-Star Week, Williams had already missed nine games with the Realtors.

The question is how long Williams is going to be on the sidelines for him to be still qualified as an MVP contender. Based on league rules, an MVP contender must have played in at least 70% of his team’s games for the season to qualify.

Coca-Cola’s Asi Taulava is trailing closely at second place with his 32.1 SPs average but the Tigers are already eliminated in the Motolite Fiesta Conference playoffs which could also dampen his chances.

Running third is Arwind Santos of Burger Kings (30.6 SPs), whose Whoppers squad will be in a do-or-die quarterfinal Game 3 on Sunday against Sta. Lucia, a game wherein his MVP chances could also be on the line.

Jayjay Helterbrand of Barangay Ginebra (29.5 SPs) is at No. 4 and Talk N’ Text’s Mark Cardona (29.4 SPs) is at fifth while also making it to the top 10 are Purefoods’ Kerby Raymundo (28.67 SPs), Philippine Cup Best Player Willie Miller (28.66 SPs), Jay Washington of San Miguel Beer (28.6 SPs) and teammate Dondon Hontiveros (28.4 SPs) and TNTs Jimmy Alapag (28.2 SPs).

Like Taulava, Cardona, Miller and Alapag have no more chance to improve their stats with their teams already out of the running in the Fiesta playoffs.

The Rookie of the Year derby, meanwhile, appears to be a toss-up between Rain or Shine teammates Gabe Norwood and Sol Mercado, who are running one-and-two.

Norwood is showing the way with his 26 SPs a game while Mercado trails him with 23.6 SPs. TNT’s Jared Dillinger is running third (21.9 SPs) followed by SMB’s Bonbon Custodio (20.2 SPs), Barako Bull’s Larry Rodriguez (16.8 SPs) and Jeff Chan (15.8 SPs), Burger King’s Beau Belga (14.0 SPs), ROS’ Tyrone Tang (13.5 SPs), TNT’s Rob Reyes (11.0 SPs) and SLR’s Kelvin Gregorio (10.4 SPs).

Norwood, Solomon and Dillinger are also in the top 30 overall, making them possible contenders for the Mythical First and Second Teams.

Jason Castro is not eligible for the Rookie of the Year award since he has played pro ball with the Singapore Slingers. The former PCU Dolphin is at No. 23 in the stats race, ahead of Talk ‘N Text teammate Dillinger at No. 28.

The league honors the season's top achievers during the Leo Awards set before Game Four of the coming Fiesta Conference finals.

Source: http://www.pba.ph/content/view/2674/1/
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