Although he didn’t rank among the five best statistical performers at the end of the 2020 P(BA) Philippine Cup, Stanley Pringle’s indispensable consistency for eventual champions Barangay Ginebra proved enough to earn him the right to contend for the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award.
Pringle, who finished with 34.8 statistical points, was basically the same deadly gunner from start to finish for the Gin Kings, who banked on the shifty guard’s dynamism for most of their title run, especially when the team dealt with slow starts from their other stars.
While fellow primary options LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar groped for form and conditioning early in the conference, Pringle took it upon himself to carry the Ginebra offense by averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists on 49 percent shooting the field and 43 percent on 3s in 34.5 minutes per 11 elimination round games.
There was barely any drop-off in scoring even when Tenorio and Aguilar hit their stride and got more touches in the quarterfinals and the semifinals, as Pringle still managed 18.4 points in six games against Rain or Shine and Meralco before reaching the finals.
The 33-year-old star even bumped up his scoring to 19.6 points on 18 shot attempts per game in five games against the TNT Tropang Giga in the best-of-seven finals and threw in 4.6 rebounds and 4.8 dimes for good measure to gain some consideration for the Finals MVP award.
Pringle, however, would be the first to admit that it wasn’t entirely a smooth showing offensively in the league’s lone conference of the season.
“I even had some games where I was up and down, so even if people would say I’ve been consistent, I think at the end of the day, I’m gonna have times when the ball isn’t going in the rim,” Pringle said on The Game by One Sports.
Points were never a problem for Pringle — he was held to single-digits just twice in 22 games — but his efficiency actually dropped as the conference went on. Pringle shot 43 percent from the field and 26 percent on threes in the quarters and semis, and although he averaged a shade under 20 per game in the finals against TNT, his accuracy actually slid to 37.8 percent of his shots during that series.
Fortunately, Pringle isn’t some one-dimensional player whose usefulness is limited to just scoring.
Against the Elasto Painters and the Bolts, Pringle crashed the boards more often (7.0 rebounds) and intercepted passing lanes more (1.0 steals). In the finals, Pringle was able to find the open man more (4.8 assists) and made the Tropang Giga pay by hitting 40.6 percent of his threes as he saw lesser lanes to the hoop.
Pringle also stayed healthy and played in all of Ginebra’s games, and he never really stayed out of rhythm despite some off-nights as evidenced by numerous clutch shots and timely fourth-quarter outbursts throughout the All-Filipino conference.
“For the most part, it’s just about taking care of your body and always getting your rhythm, whether it’s mentally or physically, getting your reps in, trying to perfect your craft and doing what you can to help your team win. That’s the main focus,” he said.
Pringle’s final numbers (18.5 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.0 steals on 44.3 percent shooting from the field, 38.3 percent on threes and 89.1 percent on free throws in 36.1 minutes per game) reflect the fact that he didn’t reach the same highs that some of his fellow competitors for the BPC award had, but what he does have that others don’t is a title. For Pringle, that’s all that matters.
“Hopefully everyone else feels the same way, but I think most of our focus is helping the team win to the best of our ability, whether it’s on offense or defense or whatever the coach feels you have a special talent that you can bring to the team to win,” said Pringle. “I think that’s where most of the focus is. But definitely I can appreciate any award or recognition.
“I’m always gonna appreciate any award and even any recognition for an award. I’m always gonna appreciate that. At the end of the day, I’m gonna put all my focus on helping the team win.”