MEDIA covering the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) will once again give awards to outstanding performers in the local professional league.

Set for March 7 at the TV5 Media Center, the virtual special Awards Night will honor players who stood out in various categories at the lone PBA tournament last year held at Clark City in Angeles, Pampanga.

The awardees will join those who won in 2019 who are to be honored belatedly after ceremonies set for last year were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Leading the awardees for the tournament “bubble” in 2020 is guard CJ Perez, formerly of Terrafirma Dyip, who is the scoring champion anew.

Mr. Perez, who was recently traded to the San Miguel Beermen, averaged 24.4 points throughout the Dyip’s campaign in the league’s successful Philippine Cup bubble, where the participants were holed up in the area for the duration of the tournament to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Former National Collegiate Athletic Association most valuable player Perez (Lyceum) improved on his 20.8-point average the previous year, where he was also the scoring champ, apart from being named rookie of the year and a member of the Mythical Team.

Also to be awarded are members of the All-Rookie Team led by rookie of the year Aaron Black of the Meralco Bolts, who helped his team to a first-ever semifinal appearance in the All-Filipino tournament.

Joining Mr. Black in the all-rookie squad are Arvin Tolentino of champion Barangay Ginebra, Terrafirma’s Roosevelt Adams, Barkley Ebona of Alaska, and Renzo Subido of NorthPort.

Phoenix Super LPG players RJ Jazul and Justin Chua are also set to get awards, namely, Mr. Quality Minutes and “Top Bubble D-Fender.”

Veteran Jazul is to be recognized for his valuable contributions off the bench for the Fuel Masters, who came just a win away from barging into their first finals appearance. He averaged 11 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists in the bubble.

Teammate Chua, for his part, led the league in blocks in the lone tournament last year with 1.6 per game, helping Phoenix to be a handful on both ends of the court. He padded his play on defense with 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds.

With Chua in the All-Bubble D-Fenders team are NorthPort’s Christian Standhardinger, Calvin Abueva (formerly of Phoenix but now with Magnolia), San Miguel’s Chris Ross, and Mark Barroca of Magnolia.

Game of the Bubble, meanwhile, is the finals berth-clinching victory of Barangay Ginebra against Meralco in their Game Five rubber match in the semifinals, highlighted by Scottie Thompson’s clutch three-pointer at the buzzer to win it all, 83-80.

Other awards to be handed out are outstanding Coach of the Bubble, Mr. Executive and President’s Award.

Meanwhile, Leo Austria, coach of San Miguel, leads the honor roll for 2019 awardees as coach of the year.

Joining him are PBA Chairman Ricky Vargas (Executive of the Year), Bulakan, Bulacan Mayor and former league MVP Vergel Meneses (President’s Award), Sean Anthony (Defensive Player of the Year), Terrence Romeo (Mr. Quality Minutes), June Mar Fajardo (Order of Merit), and Mr. Perez (Scoring Champion).

The rest of the 2019 honorees are NorthPort vs. NLEX (Game of the Season); Mr. Perez, Robert Bolick, Bobby Ray Parks, Jr., Javee Mocon, and Abu Tratter (All-Rookie Team); Kiefer Ravena, Mr. Standhardinger, Beau Belga, Vic Manuel, Arwind Santos, and coach Yeng Guiao (All-Interview Team); and PBA D-League Finals MVP Thirdy Ravena (Aspirants’ Cup) and Hesed Gabo (Foundation Cup).

The one-hour awards program is presented by Cignal TV and to be shown on PBA Rush on March 8. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo