Four teams have at least 3 wins and one of those is Mahindra who has yet to lose a game this early. While they have beaten SMB with regularity in an import-laden conference, the challenge for the Enforcers is to win more games than they lose because they won’t play SMB again until they meet in the playoffs. Yes, I have a feeling that Mahindra will move on to the next round for the first time in franchise history. The Enforcers are riding a wave of belief and confidence and these can certainly help win games.
On the other end of the spectrum, GlobalPort continues to lose games. Dating back to the Commish Cup, GBP is 3-12. What makes it more frustrating for Batang Pier is that they had a decent showing during the All-Filipino tourney.
Anyway, before the PBA holds their All-Star festivities this coming weekend, let’s take a look at the third edition of the FOX Sports PH Governors’ Cup Power Rankings.
1. TNT Katropa (Last Ranking: 2; Trend: +1)
Jayson Castro is still the best PG in the PBA, and possibly in Asia. He was named Player of the Week after compiling 26 points, 10 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds in a win vs Alaska. His dominance has carried TNT to a perfect 3-0 record even if their import, Mario Little, is only averaging 14.7 points and 9 rebounds. Furthermore, Castro was rumored to be offered a contract to play in the CBA. While Castro has not confirmed (or accepted) the offer, I think he should try the CBA once the conference is over.
2. San Miguel Beermen (Last Ranking: 1; Trend: -1)
Their 1-point loss to Mahindra was their 4th loss to the Enforcers in 2 years. All four losses came in a conference with imports. So, SMB was not very concerned with that loss and it showed when they defeated the Star Hotshots. Finally, Chris Ross busted out of his 3-game slump (3 ppg, 4.7 apg & 2.7 apg) with a masterful showing of 14 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds. In addition, June Mar Fajardo also had his best game plus Alex Cabagnot continues to be their best guard. It makes me wonder why SMB traded Cabagnot away to GlobalPort 2 seasons ago.
3. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (Last Ranking: 6; Trend: +3)
The Gin Kings are doing better than expected even without Greg Slaughter and their original import, Paul Harris. Their success can be traced towards the resurgent play of Sol Mercado and the remarkable all-around skills of rookie Scottie Thompson. Mercado is averaging 14 points this conference which is his highest average in the last 2 years. He is also hitting threes at 46% which is a career-high. As for Thompson, the rook is grabbing 7.3 rebounds a game (#1 local in his team) which is unheard of for a 6”1” point guard.
4. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (Last Ranking: 4; Trend: 0)
The Elasto Painters are truly one of the deepest teams in the league. In three games, they have paraded 3 different starting lineups with their import, Dior Lowhorn, being the only constant starter. This strategy of Coach Yeng allows different guys to have their opportunity to shine. One time Jericho Cruz, another Raymond Almazan and their most recent win, Jeff Chan. However, the disadvantage of not having a set rotation can result towards uneven and inconsistent play. Guys like Chris Tiu, Beau Belga and Maverick Ahanmisi aren’t exactly playing well, probably due to the staggered minutes they have received or lack thereof.
5. Mahindra Enforcers (Last Ranking: 7; Trend: +2)
The Enforcers added another win to their best start in franchise history. Now, it is early and their three wins by no means guarantees a playoff slot, so they must continue to compete, hustle and do things that have led them to this early success. Mahindra is doing well on both sides of the court. They are 5th in points scored and also 5th in points allowed. They are also shooting at an astounding rate of 50.7%, which places them at the top of the PBA and the only team making more than half their shot attempts. Mahindra’s early success is a pleasant story for their team and the PBA. Hopefully, the recent nose injury to LA Revilla (out for at least 2 weeks) will not dampen their momentum.
6. Meralco Bolts (Last Ranking: 3; Trend: -3)
The Bolts have lost 2 straight and are somewhat losing some steam. An obvious reason for their current plight can be traced in the fewer points Allen Durham has scored in the last 2 games. Durham averaged 15.5 points in the losses while in their first 2 wins, he was scoring 34 points. Even his rebounding dipped, but his assists slightly increased. In any case, Coach Black and the rest of the team need to devise ways to get Durham going again and he needs to be more assertive in attacking the paint.
7. Alaska Aces (Last Ranking: 5; Trend: -2)
The Aces have lost 2 games when Calvin Abueva does not play and they won the one game where he played. Hence, Abueva should try his best to hold his cool and avoid engaging in scrums that might lead to questionable actions. Everyone knows that Abueva certainly raises the energy and talent of the Aces a few notches higher. Alaska also needs Vic Manuel (5.7 points) and Sonny Thoss (3.0 points) to raise their offensive contributions. So far, their guards (Banchero, Jazul and Hontiveros) are carrying the offensive load aside from the import.
8. NLEX Road Warriors (Last Ranking: 8; Trend: 0)
Asi Taulava’s suspension hurt them and the timing was unfair to the Road Warriors who have lost 2 straight. Henry Walker was limited to 18 points vs Ginebra and he complained of physical play that he felt warranted foul calls. That was an odd complaint by Walker because after his 44-point game, he mentioned that the PBA was a “softer” league today. I wonder what changed. Anyway, NLEX needs local support because only Sean Anthony and Jonas Villanueva are averaging double digits.
9. Blackwater Elite (Last Ranking: 9; Trend: 0)
Eric Dawson is underperforming in the scoring column (18.3 points) but he tries to make up for that with his rebounding (17.7 rebounds) and defense (4.0 blocks and 2.0 steals). On the surface, that might work on a team with multiple scoring options like San Miguel, Rain or Shine and TNT. But for Blackwater, they probably need more points from their import because most of their players are still unproven scorers in the PBA, including Asian import Imad Qahwash who scored zero points in his debut. On a positive note, Qahwash is very confident that he can contribute to the Elite.
10. Star Hotshots (Last Ranking: 10; Trend: 0)
The Hotshots received a big game from James Yap (20 points) in their last game. His recent output more than doubled his total in their first 3 games (12 points). However, Star still lost against the Beermen which dropped their record to 1-3, thus, placing them in a precarious situation. On the bright side, during the past Commissioner’s Cup, the Hotshots started with the same record, but they managed to sneak in to the next round. So, it is very doable for Star to make a similar run. But if import Marqus Blakely keeps playing below expectations (10 turnovers vs SMB), then don’t expect Star to make it to the next round.
11. Phoenix Fuel Masters (Last Ranking: 12; Trend: +1)
Rookie PBA Coach Ariel Vanguardia finally garnered his first win after 4 games. The Fuel Masters bested hapless GBP last week in a high-scoring affair. Phoenix ran away with the victory thanks to a superhuman performance by their new import, Eugene “El Destructor” Phelps who exploded for 52 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists. Phelps was on a scoring rampage that ignored the negative effects of a bloodied lip and missing tooth. More good news for Phoenix, their Asian import, Lee Kwan Hee, scored his highest output (16 points) in 4 games.
12. GlobalPort Batang Pier (Last Ranking: 11; Trend: -1)
Batang Pier cannot catch a break when it comes to wins. GBP still lost to Phoenix by 13 points in a battle between winless teams even though Jay Washington played his first game this conference (13 points & rebounds), and the trio of Yeo, Pringle and Romeo combined for 61 points. Their import, Michael Glover, also had an impressive line of 27 points and 17 rebounds. So, why did GBP lose to Phoenix? They defended awfully, giving up 120 points in a non-overtime game and outside of the aforementioned 5 players, GlobalPort received just 6 points from their other players. – By Rolly Mendoza
Follow this writer on Twitter: @rollzter