The Governor’s Cup elimination round is nearing its conclusion. More than 2 weeks left before the playoffs begin. The four teams near the top of the standings (TNT, Ginebra, SMB and Mahindra) are relatively safe. They should all make the playoffs.
But the drama lies in the bottom of the standings with the remaining 4 other slots being realistically battled by 6 teams. The Star Hotshots and Blackwater Elite are not in the discussion. Both Star and Blackwater are not yet eliminated mathematically but odds of them making the next round are marginally slim.
So, where do the teams stand in terms of positioning and strength? Let’s take a look at the fifth edition of FOX Sports 2016 Governors’ Cup Power Rankings.
1. TNT KaTropa (Last Ranking: 1; Trend: 0)
TNT suffered its first loss against the vastly improved Mahindra Enforcers. That’s somewhat okay because the Katropa are still on top of the standings and they had a chance to win that game. Moving on, TNT escaped GBP in a thrilling 2-point win. Jayson Castro is still playing like an import. He leads them in scoring and assists while placing 4th among locals in scoring and 1st in overall assists. He has a legitimate chance to win the Best Player of the Conference award. Their current import, Mychal Ammons is a decent banger and low post presence but their barometer for success has been Asian import, Michael Madanly. In their loss vs Mahindra, Madanly only scored 2 points, his lowest in 8 games. This was unexpected because Madanly exploded for 30 points vs Phoenix and all his other 7 games ended with him scoring at least 10 points.
2. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (Last Ranking: 3; Trend: +1)
Brgy. Ginebra seems to be peaking at the right moment. They’ve won 5 of their past 6 games, with all 5 wins coming in double digit victories. Guys like Sol Mercado, LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar have certainly upped their games while Greg Slaughter recovers from injury. Oh by the way, Slaughter is expected to be back soon and he might play in their next game which is great news for Ginebra. Hopefully, Aguilar doesn’t lose steam when Greg comes back. Meanwhile, there were concerns with the production and effectiveness of Justin Brownlee early on. Those concerns are probably gone (for now). Brownlee has performed admirably and his interim status has been elevated to permanent since their original import, Paul Harris, is no longer in the country. Of course, that could change quickly if Ginebra loses all their remaining games.
3. San Miguel Beermen (Last Ranking: 2; Trend: -1)
The Beermen are stacked and that was evident last week when they (sans Arizona Reid who is injured) defeated Alaska. While SMB can probably stay afloat even without an import for most games, management decided to get an injury replacement. Their temporary import Mike Singletary performed well vs Meralco (21 points, 20 rebounds and 5 assists). Meanwhile, June Mar Fajardo nabbed the Player of the Week award after posting 37 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks vs Alaska. He followed that up with 24 points and 10 rebounds. It appears that the BPC is a duel between Fajardo and Castro. In addition to Singletary, SMB also hired Jordanian import Mahmoud Abdeen who will strengthen an already deep backcourt. The rich just got richer.
4. Mahindra Enforcers (Last Ranking: 4; Trend: 0)
The Enforcers are for real. They handed TNT their first loss of the conference and the Enforcers continue to impress. They clinched a playoff berth for the first time in franchise history and if they maintain their focus and intensity, Mahindra can definitely go deeper in the playoffs. James White has been a solid performer and you can count on him for 26 and 14. Now, Mahindra does not rely heavily on their import because a lot of the guys have been contributing like Paulo Taha and Michael DiGregorio who helped beat TNT. A few games ago, it was Keith Agovida’s turn. Overall, the Elite are spreading the wealth and it has resulted towards big wins over contenders.
5. Meralco Bolts (Last Ranking: 6; Trend: +1)
The Bolts almost defeated SMB in their last game. They had balanced scoring (6 players in double figures), plus Kelly Nabong and Bryan Faundo combined for 20 points and 11 rebounds. Unfortunately, the Bolts were thoroughly outshot from the FT line (14-44 in favor of SMB) and they were unable to hit baskets in the clutch. Anyway, Meralco is still in a good position to make the playoffs and another win in their final 2 games will cement that. Meanwhile, Cliff Hodge is quietly producing decent numbers this conference. Hodge is currently averaging 12.33 points and 7.1 rebounds which places him as their top scoring and rebounding local. After Hodge, rookie Chris Newsome is 2nd in scoring and rebounds. He is most likely the best candidate to win Rookie of the Year.
6. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (Last Ranking: 5; Trend: -1)
The Elasto Painters, losers in 3 of their past 4 games, will bring in another import to replace Greg Smith who came in to replace the hefty Dior Lowhorn. Smith exceeded the height limit, so RoS opted for the services of Jason Forte, a “balik” import. Forte will be tasked to rescue them from their underwhelming 3-4 record. For their remaining 4 games, RoS will have 2 tough games vs SMB and Mahindra which might push them nearer elimination instead of a playoff spot. Moreover, RoS is having difficulties outscoring their opponents from the three-point line. Typically, they thrive from the perimeter because they have a lot of guys who can shoot, but so far, they are attempting less threes and making fewer of them. In fact, after 7 games, they barely outscore their opponents from deep (8.9 threes made vs 8.4 threes given up).
7. GlobalPort Batang Pier (Last Ranking: 11; Trend: +4)
GlobalPort almost won their 4th straight game. They came back from a 24-point deficit to tie TNT in the last minute. Unfortunately, an unforced error by Stanley Pringle doomed their chances of winning or sending the game to overtime. In any case, GBP has to be somewhat happy because they are still in the running for the playoffs due to them winning 3 of their past 4 games. However, a source of concern is their lack of support outside of Mike Glover, Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle. The trio often carries the team in scoring and that is not a recipe for success in the PBA. More is expected from the rest of the group. Guys like Jay Washington, Joseph Yeo, Anthony Semerand, Karl Dehesa and Yousef Taha need to deliver relief points in order for GBP to have higher chances of winning. Against TNT, the rest of the team combined for 24 points while the “big 3” erupted for 96 points. Hopefully, newly acquired PG Mike Cortez can assist GBP in the scoring column.
8. Phoenix Fuel Masters (Last Ranking: 8; Trend: 0)
The Fuel Masters won 3 of their past 4 games to boost their chances of making the playoffs. Leading the charge is Eugene Phelps who leads all imports in scoring (38.3) and rebounding (20.3). Phelps dominated the opposition in 4 games and he normally received ample support from the others. Moreover, Cyrus Baguio has been their most consistent local and the Fuel Masters hope that the impending return of JC Intal will immediately boost their overall lineup. Phoenix has no problems scoring because they are 3rd in team scoring but they give up a lot of points on defense where they are last in points allowed. In fact, they have a net rating of -2.4 which places them in the bottom half of the league.
9. NLEX Road Warriors (Last Ranking: 7; Trend: -2)
The Road Warriors quickly dropped their last 2 games after winning 2 straight contests. It hurts that 4 of their 5 losses had deficits of 6 points or less. NLEX was within striking distance but they simply did not have enough firepower or finishing kick to get them over the hump. Henry Walker still scores in bunches but a poor shooting game or inefficient outing from him almost certainly means that NLEX will lose that game unless the others step up and produce. The Road Warriors are one of 2 teams (Phoenix) with one local averaging more than double figures, in their case, only Jonas Villanueva. Normally, Sean Anthony and Asi Taulava average more than 10 points but Anthony is apparently not 100% healthy and Asi might be slowing down a little bit. Thus, the younger players like Alas, Lanete and Khobuntin need to contribute more.
10. Alaska Aces (Last Ranking: 9; Trend: -1)
While Alaska dominated Blackwater in a 20-point win, the game that really devastated them was their loss against SMB, a team who played them without their prolific import. The Aces should have won that game but unlucky breaks and FT disparity led to their demise. Anyway, the Aces really miss Vic Manuel who hasn’t played in their last 5 games due to injury. Furthermore, the Aces have been widely inconsistent with their production. While LaDontae Henton is an amazing scorer (34.5 points), he still needs help from the rest. So far, only Calvin Abueva and RJ Jazul are averaging more than 10 points. Chris Banchero, JVee Casio, Dondon Hontiveros and Kevin Racal have been underperforming. Their total average is just 28 points.
11. Star Hotshots (Last Ranking: 10; Trend: -1)
Joel Wright (29.7 points and 16.7 rebounds) might be the only right thing going for the Star Hotshots who have lost 4 straight games and are certainly in danger of not making the playoffs. Actually, it’s very unlikely that they make it to the next round. Moreover, they might even finish with their worst conference record in the last 12 years. Their offense is sputtering (10th in scoring) and guys can’t seem to buy a basket. Maybe the current style and system aren’t working for most of the players. Newcomer RR Garcia currently leads the locals in scoring. Normally, that is a good sign but when others like James Yap, Alex Mallari, Justin Melton and Allein Maliksi only combine for 24 points (or less), then you know that things aren’t working.
12. Blackwater Elite (Last Ranking: 12; Trend: -3)
Blackwater has lost 6 straight games and it appears that the losing streak might last longer because they replaced the injured Eric Dawson with a new import, Keala King who only arrived on Wednesday. King is shorter than Dawson but the new import was described by the coaching staff as someone with very good ball-handling skills and above average speed. King is also projected to play multiple positions which should strengthen their wing positions. The Elite has 3 games left against Phoenix, GlobalPort and SMB. So, even if they win their final 3 games, chances of them squeaking in to the next round are extremely slim. Right now, the Elite simply needs to end the season healthy as they prepare for next season. They are also adjusting their roster for next season. They unloaded Mike Cortez for Ronald Pascual who can help their depleted frontcourt. – By Rolly Mendoza
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