MANILA, Philippines – For the second time in his basketball career, Scottie Thompson's hard work and effort was rewarded with a Most Improved Player (MIP) citation.
Thompson won the award in 2012, after a superb campaign for University of Perpetual Help in the 88th season of the NCAA.
Seven years later, he once again took home an MIP trophy, this time after having a big year for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA. Thompson averaged 9.1 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.4 steals per game for the Gin Kings, and never lacked for hustle.
He was the Finals MVP when Ginebra won the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup, and also earned a spot in the Second Mythical Team aside from getting the MIP nod.
"I think, 'yun nga, through hard work, sa practices, 'yung mga pinaghihirapan ko nag-pay off," said Thompson of once again winning a "Most Improved" award. "Kasi ang mentality ko lang naman lagi is hard work lang talaga."
"Bonus na 'yung mga ganitong pagkakataon na darating na may awards," he added.
Thompson did not stop working – or improving – after he won the MIP trophy in the NCAA. He became one of the most versatile players in the collegiate ranks, even racking up triple-doubles for Perpetual Help. In Season 90, he became the league's Most Valuable Player after averaging 17.07 points, 11.367 rebounds, and 5.5 assists for the Altas.
He vowed to keep that same work ethic in Ginebra, even after already having been rewarded for it.
"Tina-try ko maging mas aggressive sa offense," said Thompson, who had 9 points and 10 rebounds in Ginebra's season-opening 90-79 win over TNT KaTropa last Sunday. "Sinusubukan ko kanina. So far medyo hindi pa talaga okay."
"Sana throughout the season, sana mas mag-improve pa ako as a player, para makatulong lalo sa team," he added.
What remains to be seen is if a bigger trophy is on the horizon for Thompson – the Most Valuable Player award. In the NCAA, he went on to become MVP two years after bagging the MIP award.
Thompson is the first to admit that winning the MVP award in the PBA is rather difficult.
"Malabo," he said.
"Sana, makapag-ano ng ganoong pagkakataon, pero as of now, malabo hangga't andiyan si June Mar (Fajardo)," said Thompson, referring to the San Miguel big man who on Sunday was named MVP for the record fifth straight time.
Rather than aim for the league's highest individual honor, Thompson said he will just do as he has always done in his career, and keep working on his craft.
"Hindi ko naman tina-target," he said. "Kung ano lang talaga ang lalabas sa pag-trabaho ko sa practice. 'Yun nga, through hard work lang."
He added that more than anything, his full focus is on Ginebra's campaign in the All-Filipino Cup – where they are hoping to deny Fajardo and the Beermen a fifth straight crown.
"Focus lang muna ako sa conference, sa year na 'to, kung ano man mangyayari. Step by step lang, kung ano pwede kong ma-improve. Hindi naman ako nagmamadali sa lahat. So kung darating, darating," said Thompson.
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