2016 PBA Govs Cup Power Rankings 4.0: TNT continues to rise after All Star break

We’re nearing the halfway mark of the Governor’s Cup elimination round which is only a single round-robin affair (11 games per team). Only the top 8 teams will move on to the next phase of the tournament.

Five teams have at least 4 wins (TNT, Mahindra, Meralco, SMB and Ginebra) while 4 other teams have only a single win (Alaska, GBP, Blackwater and Star).

The rain has been pouring for almost the whole week but the action has been nonstop in the PBA during the past week. The highlight came from two double overtime games at the MOA Arena last Sunday. Hopefully, more exciting games come our way during the 2nd half of the elimination round.

So, where do the teams stand in terms of positioning and strength at the midway point of the elimination round? Let’s take a look at the fourth edition of the FOX Sports PH Governors’ Cup Power Rankings.

1. TNT Katropa (Last Ranking: 1; Trend: 0)

The only unbeaten team after 5 games decided to change their import because Mario Little was not the big hulking import they wanted. They felt that Little played too much on the perimeter. Thus, they opted to go with Mychal Ammons who had some difficulty finishing in the paint but he was a force on the boards and on defense vs Blackwater. In that win, Jayson Castro played limited minutes and scored just 7 points but TNT won by 20. Now, rookie Troy Rosario, who played in the All-Star last weekend, continues to impress. No doubt, he is a top contender for Rookie of the Year.

2. San Miguel Beermen (Last Ranking: 2; Trend: 0)

Arwind Santos finally had his conference debut after missing the first 4 games due to injury. The former MVP immediately contributed 9 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out. His return is a welcome sign for SMB who is still missing the services of Chris Lutz and Gabby Espinas. Against Ginebra, Gary David and Chris Ross suffered injuries and the Beermen hope that they won’t be out long. Fortunately for SMB, they are loaded with talent, so they can hold the fort even with their multiple injuries. This was evident vs Ginebra as Marcio Lassiter and Ronald Tubid had their best games of the conference.

3. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (Last Ranking: 3; Trend: 0)

Ginebra played a heckuva game against the Beermen in a double OT loss. They did a marvelous job coming back from huge deficits and if a timeout was called during regulation and other crucial portions of OT, then maybe the Gin Kings would be 5-1 instead of 4-2. They also lost Joe DeVance to a suspected hamstring injury. That’s an awful break for Ginebra, which is still waiting for Greg Slaughter to recover. They will be smaller upfront without DeVance and it doesn’t bode well especially since Japeth Aguilar is foul prone while Justin Brownlee’s fitness is still a question mark as the talented import has problems avoiding cramps.

4. Mahindra Enforcers (Last Ranking: 5; Trend: +1)

The erstwhile unbeaten Enforcers have lost 2 straight games. They are still among the top teams in the standings but the team should be concerned especially since their Asian import Iman Zandi left town for personal reasons and there’s no timetable on when he will be back. Anyway, James White should be a leading candidate for Best Import because his presence certainly elevated the Enforcers. With his humble disposition and calm demeanor, White has been leading Mahindra by example. Meanwhile, Keith Agovida, who was named Player of the Week for the week of August 1-7, has struggled during their last 2 losses (3 ppg).

5. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (Last Ranking: 4; Trend: -1)

The Elasto Painters seem to play better whenever Coach Yeng gets ejected from the game. They were able to defeat Alaska without Coach Yeng and they did it by sharing the ball (29 assists) and spreading the wealth (5 guys in double figures). The surprise contributor in that win was Chris Tiu who delivered 13 points with 3 triples. RoS also received solid games from Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood and Jericho Cruz who is on the rise after participating in the All-Star Game. Cruz is the 3rd leading local scorer for Rain or Shine after JR Quinahan and Paul Lee.

6. Meralco Bolts (Last Ranking: 6; Trend: 0)

Allen Durham is definitely among the top imports this conference. He proved that once more after exploding with 55 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists in a double OT loss to GBP. He followed that up with 30 points, 16 rebounds and 7 assists versus a depleted Blackwater team. While the Bolts missed their Asian import, Mohammad Jamshidi (who left due to personal reasons) during last Sunday’s loss, the same cannot be said during their game against the Elite because other guys like Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Nabong and Jared Dillinger played much better and scored a lot more to help Meralco dominate Blackwater.

7. NLEX Road Warriors (Last Ranking: 8; Trend: +1)

The Road Warriors won their 2nd straight game after dropping 3 consecutive games. Henry Walker has been their most consistent player and NLEX relies so much on his production. When Walker scores more than 30 points, the Road Warriors are 3-1. He is definitely the best three-point shooter among the imports and if he gets hot, he can carry his team to a win. However, NLEX sits at last place in scoring, not even scoring more than 90 per game. Their offense is sputtering and they could have more problems scoring if Jonas Villanueva (their top local scorer) misses games because of a sprained ankle. Fortunately, Kevin Alas stepped up with 13 points and a couple of key defensive stops in their win vs Mahindra.

8. Phoenix Fuel Masters (Last Ranking: 11; Trend: +3)

The Fuel Masters won back-to-back games to put themselves in a much better position to make the playoffs. Many thanks to Eugene Phelps and Cyrus Baguio for guiding them during their past 2 games. Phelps only scored 23 points after debuting with 52 points but he grabbed 21 boards. As for Baguio, he delivered 22 points vs Mahindra and Phoenix hopes that Skyrus continues his hot shooting. Speaking of hot shooting, Asian import Lee has been great during their past 2 wins: 14.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists. After Madanly of TNT, Lee has been the 2nd best Asian import.

9. Alaska Aces (Last Ranking: 7; Trend: -2)

The Aces are struggling to hold leads and they’ve lost a couple of games where poor endgame decisions or unlucky breaks have cost them potential wins. They lost 4 games already with an average losing margin of just 3.8 points. Alaska was just a possession or two away from being 5-0. In any case, they are near the bottom of the standings even if LaDontae Henton continues to score in bunches. The fact remains that more than a couple of their guys are struggling to contribute consistently: Sonny Thoss, JVee Casio, Ping Exciminiano and Kevin Racal. There’s also the injury to Vic Manuel which has obviously weakened their frontcourt production.

10. Star Hotshots (Last Ranking: 10; Trend: 0)

Star replaced Marqus Blakely with the hopes that their new import, Joel Wright, would help them avoid their 4th loss in 5 games. It didn’t happen because the Hotshots failed to execute during the final moments of their games vs NLEX. Now, they aren’t out of the playoff race just yet but things look bleak because some of the guys they depend on like James Yap, Allein Maliksi, Ian Sangalang and Alex Mallari haven’t exactly produced the desired results. On the bright side, Justin Melton has played 2 solid games since coming back from injury and RR Garcia continues to play well.

11. GlobalPort Batang Pier (Last Ranking: 12; Trend: +1)

GlobalPort finally got their first win after a thrilling double overtime win vs Meralco. Anthony Semerad came out of nowhere to pour in a career-high 24 points on 9 of 13 shooting. He hit 6 threes and the last one gave Batang Pier the lead and the win. He was also named the PBA Player of the Week. Moreover, GBP also gave their head coach Johnedel Cardel his first win in the PBA. Although, it is still unclear who the real head coach for GBP is, Cardel or Franz Pumaren? In any case, GBP’s win gives them a fighting chance to still compete for a playoff spot. Additionally, Terrence Romeo continues to sizzle. He scored at least 20 points for the 3rd straight outing.

12. Blackwater Elite (Last Ranking: 9; Trend: -3)

The Elite have lost 4 straight games and 3 of those matches ended with double digit deficits. To make things worse, Eric Dawson got hurt during their game versus TNT and that forced him to miss their game versus Meralco. Aside from their American import, the Elite are also missing the services of Mike Cortez and big man JP Erram who suffered an ACL injury. To help their depleted roster, Blackwater quickly signed free agent Denok Miranda for the rest of the conference. Miranda played against Meralco and he was able to contribute productive minutes. Rookie Art Dela Cruz also played well versus Meralco as he led them in scoring with 23 points (career-high). – By Rolly Mendoza

Follow this writer on Twitter: @rollzter