The PBA MVP may be the most misleading MVP award in all of Philippine basketball; mainly because there has never been an archetypal PBA MVP and really, the most valuable players from conference to conference are the imports.
The award, as a concept, is impossible to put in a box. You will never find a consensus definition of it. Parang love lang. We each have our own understanding.
It can be given to the leader of the best team that year (Alapag 2011), or to the best player on the best team (Johnny Abarrientos 1996), or to the season’s best player (e.g. Kelly Williams 2008), or to the second best (Willie Miller 2007), to the most popular (James Yap 2006), to the most dominant (Asi Taulava 2003, Danny Ildefonso 2000, 2001), or to the “Dahil Wala Lang Mapagbigyan Ng Award” MVP (Willie Miller, who by the way averaged 9ppg in 2002).
The PBA Most Valuable Player is construed in a different manner every year. The award adapts. It changes essence. The only premise is that the winner has to be valuable in his own way. He has to belong to a winning team and be essential to the team’s success. His team ultimately has to win enough games.
How many is enough? You ask.
Well, every winner of the award has either brought his team to at least two playoff appearances or won a championship that year.
Gary David failed to do either this year. That’s why I understand why he shouldn’t win the Dekada ’70-Mano Po-like race to the MVP against Mark Caguioa. Gets ko. Ginebra won enough, Powerade didn’t (Powerade finished with a 14-18 W-L record in all of the eliminations this year). In fact, Mark “The Spark” had my vote a few days ago. I even almost wrote an “It’s about damn time Mark Caguioa is MVP” article.
But it felt like I was forcing the award on Mark. Kasi parang ibibigay mo lang sa kanya. Pimples literally popped all over my face every time I try to unearth sound reasons why he should win. “Bakit ba dapat si Mark Caguioa ang MVP?” I asked myself. Ultimately, the overriding sentiment is that Powerade didn’t win enough; that’s why we’re giving the MVP to the second best player of the season whose team went to the playoffs in all of the three conferences.
But I want my MVP to take it — to grab the award like The Worm grabs rebounds. I want to be gung-ho about my MVP. I want him to own the season.
Despite a losing record, despite only making the playoffs once this season, Gary David flat out owned the season!
The 2011-2012 Powerade Tigers were built like a complicated Ducati Monster, with missing and compromising parts, and with features tailored to a specific type of driver, and Gary David happened to be the only person who could have driven the motorcycle to a win in a race against F1 racecars. Only Gary David’s greatness could have lifted the Tigers’ inept lineup this season. No one else’s confidence and self-belief could have fooled Will Antonio, Rudy Lingganay, Celino Cruz, Francis Allera and co. into believing they could win any game.
And that’s Gary David’s amazing impact. He defended like Melo, and he was never a good passer nor a good playmaker, but he made his teammates play loose and confident because they knew they had a shot at beating anyone. Going into a game with Gary David on your side is like going into a 2-against-5 bar fight with an MMA fighter. Beyond the 25ppg average (Last time a local averaged at least 25 a game over a full season? Alvin Patrimonio back in 1992) and the way he stretches the floor and attracts attention, that’s Gary’s true value and that’s why he’s head and shoulders above the second best player this year.
Ten years from now, I’m sure we will all remember the 2011-2012 season for Gary David’s Hands-on-Fire Game versus B-MEG, for the game-saving buckets he drained against Rain Or Shine, for the 19 straight games he scored 20 or more, for the “I’m gonna say Cinderella run because it simply was a Cinderella run” run by Powerade in the Philippine Cup. Everyone fed off of his energy — including AKTV and PBA’s ratings. An afterthought turned iconic player produced iconic moments and a watershed year for the whole League. Ten years from now, this season’s top-of-mind player will be Gary David. No effin doubt.
And if anyone argues that Powerade didn’t win enough, I agree with you. Pero dapat mas ma-appreciate niyo ‘yung pagBUHAT na ginawa ni Gary Davidthis season. After all, he brought a used-to-be cellar-dwelling lineup to the Philippine Cup Finals. Against any local who played exceptional in an import-laden conference, shouldn’t we give more weight to that?
I thought so.
 Second to Mark Caguioa who averaged 24.6 ppg 5rpg and 4apg in only 30 games that season.
 This had a “Pacquiao win over Marquez” feeling over it. The popular choice won. People were even crediting half the award to Kris Aquino.
 If you’re counting at home, Willie Miller won two asterisk MVP’s. This one had a humongous asterisk on it. Teams had 2 imports that year because the League’s best formed the Hapee Toothpaste candidates’ guest team for our national team.
 I almost put “grab the award like he’s grabbing Kate Upton’s bosoms”. I figured you’d have to be gentler.
 Powerade Assistant Coach Charles Tiu admits that Gary David sometimes takes possessions off on defense for him to have energy on offense — a trade-off they don’t mind. I don’t either.