Filipino-American guard Mikh McKinney continued to shine bright for the Macau Black Bears this season in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL).
Since losing his backcourt partner and reigning Import MVP Anthony Tucker to a left foot injury, McKinney had put the Black Bears on his shoulder, averaging 36.0 points, 7.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 steals, all while shooting an outstanding 55.3 percent from the field.
Within that stretch, he also tallied the second-most points scored in a single game in ABL history, after notching a career-high 50 points against the defending champions San Miguel Alab Pilipinas on the road.
“I’m just trying to win for my team. You know, with losing Ant (Tucker), that’s tough for us. He’s a big part of our team,” shared McKinney. “He was our leader. He got us into our offense, he kept everybody in check, so he did a lot obviously coming back off of an MVP season, so we have to adjust a lot. It’s a big loss for us.”
McKinney himself was awarded the now-defunct Heritage Import MVP award by the end of the 2017-18 season. He partnered with Tucker to lead the same franchise (formerly known as Chong Son Kung Fu) to the league’s first seed last season, but fell in the semifinals.
“Somebody on the team goes down, everybody has to help pick each other up. That is how it goes, everybody, you know, with him being gone, it’s getting ready, because they know, they’re gonna do more, everybody. Me included, Ryan (Watkins) also. We all got to do more to fill his shoes.”
Continuing to lead the league’s best offense, is it time to put his name back into the Most Valuable Player conversation this season?
The 27-year-old combo guard currently leads the league in scoring at 28.1 points per game after scoring 40 or more four times this season, against top teams, the Formosa Dreamers and Alab Pilipinas, no less.
He also recently joined the 1,000 career points club, all while ranking fourth in assists with 6.3 dimes per outing.
On track to improving on every statistical category from last season, shouldn’t McKinney be rightfully considered for MVP contention? The other candidates in the mix include the equally deserving Renaldo Balkman of the top-seeded San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and McKinney’s teammate Tucker, who is now expected to be out for the rest of the season.
“Just trying to do whatever I could out there to try and help my team win. The ball started falling through the basket, just gonna get going a little bit, and like I said, just trying to help my team get a win,” said McKinney after his 50-point game against the defending champions.
Currently tied with the CLS Knights Indonesia for fourth place in the standings, McKinney and the Black Bears will just one more regular season game, against fellow playoff contender Singapore Slingers.
If McKinney can close the season at the level that he has so far this season, perhaps he has proven that he deserves to win a second league MVP award.
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