The 2016 Oppo Commissioner’s Cup is nearing the end of the single elimination round. Most teams have played at least 8 games already except San Miguel. Remember, there are only 11 games during the elimination round and the top 8 teams will advance to the next round. The most likely minimum number of wins (and safe estimate) needed to advance to the next round is 6 wins.
Using that number as a barometer, 2 teams (Blackwater and GlobalPort) have already been eliminated while 2 more teams (Star and Phoenix) are nearing the brink of elimination. As for the top 8 teams, they are still jockeying for better positions with Meralco leading the pack with a 6-2 record while teams placed 2nd to 8th are behind by only 0.5 to 2 games. Needless to say, the standings tightly contested and things could be different after the next batch of games.
So, let’s take a look at the third edition of the FOX Sports PH Power Rankings to see which teams have vaulted to the top and which teams have fallen to the bottom.
1. San Miguel Beermen (Last Ranking: 7; Trend: +6)
San Miguel won 5 of their past 6 games including dominant wins over Alaska and Star despite playing without a full lineup. June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos missed games due to various reasons but their absences have not prevented the Beermen from still winning. Others stepped up to make up the void left by JMF and Arwind, namely Chris Ross, Marcio Lassiter and Tyler Wilkinson. Ross recently won Player of the Week honors and Lassiter has been waxing hot from downtown (27 of 59 for 46%) plus their import, Wilkerson, is a strong candidate for Best Import. He is averaging 36 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks to go with his 7 double-doubles.
2. Meralco Bolts (Last Ranking: 1; Trend: -1)
The Bolts are still at the top of the standings with their 6-2 record but they have lost 2 of their past 3 games so they are losing some steam. On the bright side, clinching their 6th win almost assures them of advancing to the next round. Their next 3 games will be for placing purposes and the Bolts hope that their recent incident regarding Gary David won’t hurt their chances at acquiring more wins. Fortunately for the Bolts, rookies Chris Newsome (a good bet for Rookie of the Year) and Baser Amer have been playing well while Jared Dillinger continues to thrive this conference.
3. Alaska Aces (Last Ranking: 4; Trend: +1)
The Aces won 5 straight games with supposed replacement import Shane Edwards. However, Alaska lost 2 straight games with Edwards versus teams they were somewhat expected to beat. Now, there is talk that their original import, Robert Dozier, might be called upon to replace Edwards when Dozier is declared officially healthy and ready to play. Regardless of which import they will tap for the rest of conference, the Aces are still in pretty good shape thanks to their three-prong frontline attack sans their import. Their big men are performing exceptionally. Furthermore, Calvin Abueva (16 points, 8.1 rebounds & 3.8 assists) and Vic Manuel (15.1 points & 4.4 rebounds) are posting monster stats but the surprise is Sonny Thoss with a resurgent 10 points and 3.6 boards.
4. Tropang TnT (Last Ranking: 9; Trend: +5)
The defending champions had bleak hopes of making the playoffs after their original import, Ivan Johnson, was suspended for the conference and the team started 1-3. However, substitute import David Simon proved to be more than capable of filling the hole that Johnson left. Consequently, Tropang TnT won 4 of their past 5 games including a crucial win versus Ginebra last night which gave them a much better chance of advancing. Furthermore, TnT should feel better and more confident after receiving marvelous performances from their prized rookies. The transition to play SF has been tough on Troy Rosario but in his last game, #2 draft pick had a career-high 22 points (5-7 from three) while #1 pick, Mo Tautuaa wasn’t bad either with 12 points off the bench.
5. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (Last Ranking: 6; Trend: +1)
The Gin Kings were gifted a thrilling comeback win versus the Fuel Masters. That was an exciting game that Phoenix should have won but they gave Ginebra a lot of opportunities to claw their way back during the final minutes of the game. So, did LA Tenorio travel? Yes, it was a travelling violation by Tenorio who nailed the winning basket but the referees did not see (or call) the infraction. Anyway, Ginebra was unable to win their 3rd straight after failing to compete with Tropang TnT. Ginebra still struggles scoring and their outside shooting also needs a lot of improvement (11th in both categories). These were evident against TnT as the Gin Kings merely tallied 92 points (while TnT scored 107) and connected on just 3 of 14 from downtown.
6. Mahindra Enforcers (Last Ranking: 11; Trend: +5)
The Enforcers appear to be headed towards their best conference in their 1.5 years of existence in the PBA. Moreover, Mahindra has a decent shot of making the playoffs for the first time in their franchise history. Leading the way is KG Canaleta, their top local scorer (17.1 points), and he has a lot of support coming from Aldrech Ramos (12.8 points), LA Revilla (11.6 points) and Karl Dehesa (10.8 points). Mahindra also has two of the best three-point shooters in the league with Canaleta and Ramos. Both guys are shooting 50% or better beyond the arc. Mahindra Coach Chito Victolero is also doing a great job rotating his players. The Enforcers consistently use a 10-man rotation and everyone gets to contribute offensively and/or defensively.
7. NLEX Road Warriors (Last Ranking: 2; Trend: -5)
The Road Warriors alternated losses and wins during their last 4 games which allowed them to stay in the thick of the fight for a shot in the next round. Although they have been inconsistent as a team, Asi Taulava and Sean Anthony have been their most reliable players because aside from their import Al Thornton, only Taulava and Anthony are averaging double figures in points. The steady of play of their two best frontcourt players is somewhat expected and to the delight of Coach Boyet Fernandez, their young guards (Kevin Alas, Garvo Lanete and Simon Enciso) are starting to remind fans why they were drafted and signed in the first place. These guys have been playing well enough to keep veterans Mac Cardona and John Wilson on the bench most of the time.
8. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (Last Ranking: 8; Trend: 0)
The Elasto Painters had a tough opening to the conference. Paul Lee was sideline for their first 5 games while their original import, Wayne Chism, went down with a hamstring injury after 2 games. RoS replaced Chism with Antoine Wright but the team felt that he was not the right import after only 3 games. Their third import, Maurice Charlo, has been so-so (24.3 points & 9.7 rebounds), thus, Coach Yeng has been adamant in pushing their import to become a better leader and contributor on the floor. Back to Lee, he played 3 games already but he hurt his knee again recently so he might be out indefinitely. Meanwhile, some good news for their fans, JR Quinahan and Jericho Cruz are averaging career-high in points while rookie Maverick Ahanmisi is a solid pick for Rookie of the Year.
9. Star Hotshots (Last Ranking: 10; Trend +1)
The Star Hotshots replaced Denzel Bowles with Ricardo Ratliffe and they promptly won 3 of their past 4 games to climb to 4-5 after being 1-4 in their first 5 games. They still have a small chance of making it to the next round but they have to win their last 2 games to make it even a possibility. However, things got worse for the Hotshots because James Yap got injured during their last game vs SMB and his projected recovery time could take 3 weeks. The eliminations will be over by that time and there’s a good chance that Star won’t make it to the next round. Now, even without Yap, the Hotshots should have enough firepower to compete. The first guy to look for instant offense is Allein Maliksi who continues to be their top local scorer (16.4 points) while PJ Simon, Mark Barroca and Alex Mallari should also provide support.
10. Phoenix Fuel Masters (Last Ranking: 5; Trend: -5)
The Fuel Masters need to win their last 3 games to have a sliver of hope in making the playoffs. Things could have been much easier if they won that out of town game vs Ginebra. Too bad they lost their composure and focus during the clutch moments of that game. On the other hand, Phoenix escaped with a win in overtime versus Blackwater which essentially eliminated Blackwater from the playoffs. Phoenix is 2-4 in their last 6 games and changing imports after 2 games might have hurt them even if Kevin Pinkney has decent numbers (23.7 points & 14.2 rebounds) because the Fuel Masters need better numbers from their import. They are not a deep team (only RR Garcia and JC Intal are scoring more than 10 points per game) so Pinkney needs to do more.
11. Blackwater Elite (Last Ranking: 12; Trend: +1)
Blackwater Elite lost 6 of their past 7 games including a heartbreaker loss in OT versus Phoenix. They have one game left and their 3-7 record just won’t cut it, thus, they have been eliminated already. One of the main reasons for their slide can be traced to the underwhelming play of their import, MJ Rhett. This guy was unfairly compared to Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat and it appears he is nowhere near Bosh’s level. Rhett is only averaging 18.9 points which is the lowest among all imports. Heck, even Carlo Lastimosa is averaging more (20.6 points) than Rhett. It is a huge surprise that Blackwater stuck with Rhett for the whole conference. On the other hand, Blackwater has to be happy with the performances of rookie Art Dela Cruz and the consistent play of Reil Cervantes and Mike Cortez.
12. GlobalPort Batang Pier (Last Ranking: 3; Trend: -9)
GlobalPort has been very unlucky this conference. They started with a 2-1 record but they lost their last 5 games. They struggled finding the right import early and it cost them games. Now, they are on their 3rd import, Shawn Taggart (36.5 points & 13.5 rebounds), and he appears to be the right fit but GBP lost 2 games with Taggart in tow. Frankly, the arrival of Taggart came too late because injuries to Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle have negated the import’s positive impact. Romeo has not played in their past 2 games while Pringle has missed the last 4 games. Sadly, GBP won’t make it to the playoffs even if they win their last 3 games, so it makes sense to simply rest the dynamic duo. Do you remember when their coaching staff decided to bench Joseph Yeo for 2 straight games during the earlier parts of March? Rumors of an impending trade were rampant back then but guess what? Yeo is playing again due to the lack of healthy bodies. – By Rolly Mendoza
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