The SBL kept one of its bizarre traditions of handing out regular season awards long after the champion has been determined, announcing the award winners Monday in a gala-like official ceremony. Don’t ask me why because I couldn’t figure it out as well. Anyway, here we go…
MVP for the regular season: Chen Hsin-an (Yulon)
Chen Hsin-an edged out Jon Sanders by three points, 69-66, in a tight race with each earning nine first-place ballots. Chen won the honor for the first time while Sanders finished with runner-up for the second straight year. In fact, I think both players deserved the honor. Chen has transformed himself and turned in the best all-around performance in his career. Sanders dominated in almost all statistic categories and once again led his team to the playoffs.
Obviously, Chen was able to pull this off because… well, Sanders is an import. I’m not sure what it is. Maybe it’s national pride or something but a lot of people tend to think that the MVP award should be handed out to a local. Personally, I would have voted Chen and Sanders for a co-MVP this year and voted for Sanders last year, which I have mentioned a couple of times in this blog earlier.
SBL First Team:
Chen Hsin-an (Yulon)
Jon Sanders (dmedia)
Wu Tai-hao (TB)
Chen Chih-chung (Yulon)
Wu Yung-jen (TM)
This is an interesting one. Guess who was the only repeated winner on this team from last year’s SBL first team? The answer is Jon Sanders. And he played for a different team — Videoland — last season.
Gone were Tien Lei, the three-time SBL MVP who sat out the entire season due to his knee injury; Yulon starting center Tseng Wen-ting, who missed most of the season also because of a knee injury and played terribly after his return; and Lin Chih-chieh, the reigning Finals MVP who seemed a little bit lost during the regular season.
Chen Chih-chung, Wu Tai-hao and Wu Yung-jen all made the First Team for the first time.
Defensive Player of the Year: Chen Chih-chung (Yulon)
Chen had 48 points in the media voting and beat Jon Sanders for the award, his first Defensive Player of the Year award in five years.
The point guard has been known for his intensity, hustle and never-say-die attitude as well as his cheap shots on the court, somehow making him the Taiwanese version of Bruce Bowen. However, Chen is coaches’ dream in that he would do anything the coaches asked of him. And he would take on any offensive player even if the guy is a center.
Most Improved Player: Hsu Chih-chan (BOT)
The quick-jumping forward won the award by an average of 15.6 points and 8.9 rebounds, which almost doubled his stats last year. In a down year for Bank of Taiwan, Hsu has been the most reliable performer on the court. On second thought, every year is a down year for BOT.
Actually, dmedia’s Ouyang Ching-heng also deserved the recognition after a breakout season. But he only got 55 points in the voting while Hsu got 72 points.
Sixth Men of the Year: Chen Tzu-wei (Dacin) / Wu Chian-lung (PY)
For the first time in the short history of this award (the league didn’t start handing out this award until last season), two players shared the honor as Chen Tzu-wei and Wu Chian-lung both received 40 points.
Chen has been a spark off the bench for Dacin, which played without Tien Lei all season, and averaged 10.1 points and 4.2 boards. Wu Chian-lung was also solid coming off the bench for the younf and inexperienced Pure Youth.
Rookie of the Year: Lin Ching-pang (PY)
Lin averaged 8.7 points and 4.6 rebounds and won the award in a weak class. However, his contribution has been important for Pure Youth, evidenced by his increasing playing time toward the end of the season and in the playoffs.
Coach of the Year: Hsu Ching-tse (PT)
Hsu Ching-tse, 35, led Pure Youth from seven wins last season to 15 wins and a playoff berth this year. He has been long considered the odds-on favorite to win this award although Yulon’s Lee Yung-kwang also deserved some consideration by leading the Dinos to the regular season champion with some key injuries on the roster (Tseng Wen-ting, Lee Hsueh-lin and Chen Chih-chung).
For complete SBL award history, please check this page.