From out of nowhere, Calvin Oftana is the frontrunner for MVP in the NCAA 95 Men's Basketball Tournament.
Posting per game counts of 15.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.2 blocks, the fourth-year forward has been the most consistent player for league-leading San Beda University.
Because of him, the Red Lions haven't missed a beat even after losing Javee Mocon - and in the same light, Robert Bolick as well.
And for Oftana himself, the fact that he has given and done it all to fill the leadership of Mocon and Bolick is much more important than the monster numbers he has been putting up. "Hindi ko talaga iniisip (yung MVP). I just play my game and want to be a role model sa mga kasama ko," he said.
He then continued, "Minsan, yung mga nasa bench namin, nagtatampo pag 'di nakakalaro so gusto kong tingnan nila ako na nandun lang palagi, ready to step up sa kung anong kulang sa team namin. I just wanna be a role model sa mga teammates ko para ganahan pa rin silang maglaro kahit off the bench o any second lang silang maglaro."
In his first three years in red and white, the pride of Dumaguete was the backup to Mocon.
Still, each and every time he was sent into the court, he turned in quality minutes.
Now, Oftana is one of the leaders of a San Beda machine that has remained undefeated thus far in its quest for a four-peat.
And that fourth consecutive championship remains the focus for him and his teammates. "I just want to win a championship para masaya kaming lahat. Kung nandun man (yung MVP), siguro, nag-pay off lang lahat ng hard work ko," he said.
He then continued, "Wala sa akin yung award. Ang goal ko is makita kami sa championship kahit wala na yung mga Robert Bolick, Javee Mocon."
Indeed, Red Lions mentor Boyet Fernandez has but one reminder for the MVP leader - as well as Evan Nelle, Donald Tankoua, and James Canlas who are also in the top five of the race. "I always make sure my players realize that individual awards come second to winning a championship. I'm happy with Calvin and I appreciate what he's been doing," he said.
He then continued, "I'm happy he's the leading candidate for the individual awards, but it will be for nothing if we will not win the championship."
Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.