AS EXPECTED, defending champion San Sebastian College and San Beda extend its fight in the Most Valuable Player race with the leading candidate just a full point ahead of the closest pursuer.

At the end of the first round campaign in the 86th National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), energetic forward Calvin “The Best” Abueva of the Stags and American behemoth Sudan Daniel of the Red Lions are almost locked for the top individual honor.

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Abueva, a former recipient of the Accel/FilOil NCAA Press Corps player of the week award, amassed 55.6 statistical points while Daniel, a two-time winner of the same weekly honor, is second with 54.6 points at the end of the first round last August 18.

Abueva leads everyone in rebounds with an average of 12.3 points a game and second in scoring (16) behind only St. Benilde’s Carlo Lastimos (16.9) while Daniel is tops in blocks (four), second in rebounds (11.6) plus a 10-point per game norm.

But the strong caveat however lies on Abueva’s turnovers (20 to nine) and less won game points (105 to 120) that allowed Daniel to drive closer en route in becoming the second foreigner cager to win the MVP plum after former teammate Sam Ekwe from Nigeria.

Ekwe did the trick twice, in 2006 and 2008, when San Beda was still on top of the heap before losing to San Sebastian a two-game sweep last year.

In third place is PBA-bound Borgie Hermida with 43.9 points while fast-rising bigman Dave Marcelo wound up fourth at 42.6, while Abueva’s equally athletic teammate Ronald Pascual was running fifth with 39.4.

Rounding up the top 10 were Jose Rizal’s Marvin Hayes (38.5), Emilio Aguinaldo’s Claude Cubo (38.1), San Beda’s Jake Pascual (37.8) and Garvo Lanete (37.3) and Arellano U’s Adrian Celada (37.1).(Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

The junior’s division also followed the same vein after San Beda guard Baser Amer collected 60.4 points, one-point ahead of San Sebastian’s Gino Jumao-as (59.4) while Perpetual Help’s Joshua Alolino got 58.3 points to settle for third place.

Jose Rizal’s Jerome Garcia and Perpetual Help’s Antonio Inigo are at No. 4 and No. 5 with 49.8 apiece while Jose Rizal’s Cris dela Paz (49.6), Letran’s Rey Nambatac (45.8), Perpetual Help’s Joel Brito (43.5), Letran’s Mark Cruz (42)and San Beda’s Adam Abatayo (40.9) completed the elite top 10.

In a related development, La Salle-Greenhills nipped Letran, 2.5-1.5 to bag this year’s NCAA high school chess title at the SM City Manila.

Giovanni Mejia and Alfonso Ramos delivered the match-clinching wins on the top two boards while a draw by Alexander Mendonez with Christian Rey Drapete on board four sealed it for the Junior Blazers.

Mejia was adjudged the tournament MVP while National Master Erwin Carag the Best Coach for helping steer College of St. Benilde. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)