PBA coaches like Kawhi but Westbrook still favorite for NBA MVP

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PBA coaches like Kawhi but Westbrook still favorite for MVP
The NBA MVP race is down to three people. (AP photo collage)

The NBA Finals is upon us, but aside from crowning the 2017 champions, there's still another important piece of business to attend to in the Association.

That piece of business is who wins Most Valuable Player for the 2016-2017 season.

Aside from asking them their NBA Finals picks, ABS-CBN Sports also had the chance to talk to some PBA head coaches regarding their bet to win MVP this year.

[Related: PBA coaches say Kevin Durant the x-factor in NBA Finals]

The Asssociation previously announced that Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder, James Harden of the Houston Rockets, and Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs, were the three finalists for the award. 

Given that field, PBA coaches overwhelmingly went with the enigma that goes by the name of Russell Westbrook to win this year's MVP.

"I think Westbrook will win it. I think he had the most dominating year," Meralco's Norman Black said.

"He did some things that had never been really done in the past, and I think maybe Houston has a little better team than the Thunder have, so I think both guys [including James Harden] actually deserve it. But if you ask me who I think will win it, I think Westbrook," he added.

In leading Oklahoma City to the playoffs as the number six seed in the West in the team's first season without Kevin Durant, Westbrook set a new NBA record by posting 42 triple-doubles.

That remarkable feat, which broke Oscar Robertson's record of 41 set during the 1961-62 season, is a big deal for Rain or Shine's Caloy Garcia.

"Westbrook. Westbrook ako, triple-double yun eh," he said.

"Bihira ka makakita ng player na gumagawa ng triple-double so Westbrook ako. I think he deserves it and hopefully he gets in," Garcia added.

While he's not going to pick for Russ if he had a vote for the MVP award, Ginebra's Tim Cone still likes Westbrook to win it all.

"I think it's gotta be Westbrook. He had just something that was very remarkable, no one has done since Oscar," he said.

"If I voted, I would vote for [Kawhi] Leonard only because I love the way he plays both ways, I love two-way players. But because Westbrook did such a special thing this year, he should win it," Cone added.

Such is the line of thinking for most PBA coaches. None of the ones we interviewed tabbed Harden to win, and most had Leonard as their personal choice for MVP.

Aside from Cone, NLEX Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao also has his money on the Spurs' stoic superstar to emerge as the top dog of this past NBA season.

"Kay Kawhi ako. Ang tingin ko kasi kay Westbrook at Harden, masyadong naka-sentro talaga sa kanila yung offense ng mga teams nila. Kay Kawhi, meron pa siyang regard or consideration for his teammates; yung sa dalawa, nagpa-pile up lang sila ng stats for themselves eh," he said, offering his two cents on how Westbrook and Harden piled up so many triple-doubles this year.

"Yun hindi ko nakikita ka Kawhi na ginagawa niya deliberately, pero dun sa dalawa, parang meron talagang deliberate intention na if they’re not going to the win the game, might as well pile up my stats, which I feel is not good for the game," Guiao added.

Despite not picking an NBA champion, TNT's Nash Racela knows for sure who he wants to win MVP.

It's Kawhi.

"Old school ako eh, I'd go for Leonard," he said.

For the sake of comparison Westbrook averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds, 10.4 assists, and 1.6 steals in the regular season as Oklhamoha City finished with a 47-35 record.

Leonard went for 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.8 steals per game for a Spurs team that took the no. 2 seed in the West after winning 61 games.

James Harden, who absolutely got no love from the PBA coaches we talked to, was good for 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, 11.2 assists, and 1.4 steals this year.

The NBA MVP will be announced on June 26, (June 27, PHL time) via a televised awards show at Basketball City at Pier 36 in Manhattan.



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