THE Awards Night of the PBA’s 45th season capped a year of firsts for the pro league – and pretty much showcased another dominant run by Ginebra.
Stanley Pringle, a vita cog in the Kings’ run to the Philippine Cup bubble title, added to his growing list of individual accolades by bagging his first Best Player of the Conference award while teammate Prince Caperal copped his first individual award, the Most Improved Player plum.
Scottie Thompson made it a triple celebration for the Kings by being the recipient of the Samboy Lim Sportsmanship trophy while Meralco’s Aaron Black became the lowest draft pick (18th overall) to be named the Rookie of the Year.
Pringle, Phoenix’s Matthew Wright and Calvin Abueva, Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar and TNT’s Poy Erram composed the Elite 5.
Some members of the PBA Commissioner’s Office, among them Deputy Commissioner Eric Castro, media bureau staff member Mich Flores, operations staff Rouselle Ighot, and staffers Niel Tibajares and Arloune Miguel also got recognition by being named “Bida ng Bubble.”
The entire ceremony was a first for the pro league’s most festive night, held annually before live audiences since 1982.
This time, the entire proceedings were done inside the TV5 studio via video conferencing as part of the PBA’s safety protocols amidst the pandemic’s lingering threat.
Some league officials, led by Chairman Ricky Vargas of TNT and Commissioner Willie Marcial, were on hand along with team representatives Erick Arejola of NorthPort, Raymond Zorilla of Phoenix, and Dickie Bachmann of Alaska.
All 19 nominees were required to go online and connect through Zoom.
“Awkward zoom calls with 40 dudes just staring at each while on mute,” tweeted Most Improved Player candidate Jason Perkins of Phoenix.
CJ Perez and Justin Chua had to excuse themselves from the ongoing Gilas practices in Calamba to take part in the ceremony, but the candidates who were still abroad clearly showed the time difference.
As it was just 5 a.m. in Toronto when the show began, Wright looked like he just got out of bed.
Ray-Ray Parks, a candidate for BPC and Elite 5, had to stay up late since it was 2 a.m. in California when he logged on.
Some dressed up wearing the required suits while others, like Perez in sweats, begged off from following the dress code.
Also, there was a sprinkling of hiccups in camera angling and audio for some of the players, but those were minor.
As unique as the ceremony was in PBA history, the awards night still had to be done.
“Ito ‘yung bunga ng sakripisyo at hirap ng mga players. Bigyan naman natin ng kaunting kapalit sa ginawa nilang sakripisyo sa bubble,” Marcial explained during the opening ceremony.