With every team logging at least six games each, we’re officially halfway through the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. A couple of surprisingly good teams have made their way to the top half of the standings, while a perennial contender is languishing at the bottom, desperate for a win to cure its troubles.
As we enter the stretch run to the playoffs, here’s how the teams stack up in the latest edition of the DM’s PBA Power Rankings.
1. Bay Area Dragons (6-1)
Offensive Rating: 115.4 (1st) | Defensive Rating: 96.9 (1st)
Who could argue the case of a team that leads the league in both offense and defense? On offense, Bay Area is far ahead of the pack, as there’s almost a five-point dropoff when comparing their offensive rating to that of the second-ranked teams (Magnolia and Converge). Whether they’re initiating their plays from the perimeter with Myles Powell or feeding the ball to the post with Andrew Nicholson, the Dragons are making essentially half of their shots (49% FG).
There’s still work to be done for Bay Area, especially with that lopsided loss to Ginebra leaving a bad taste in their mouths. Head coach Brian Goorjian does have a good problem on his hands: who between Powell and Nicholson will he bring to the playoffs?
Next two games: Meralco, Rain or Shine
2. Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots (5-1)
Offensive Rating: 110.7 (T-2nd) | Defensive Rating: 103.5 (4th)
This conference, Magnolia (along with Bay Area) is one of only two teams ranking in the Top 5 in both offensive and defensive rating. As always, they’re still largely allergic to taking threes (ranked last in three-point attempts), with Paul Lee (6.3 3PA) and Mark Barroca (3.5 3PA) the only Magnolia players attempting at least three triples per game. But even without a lot of spacing, this is a team that has played with each other for a long time, so they know how to sync their movements on offense. They have two players (Barroca, Jio Jalalon) ranking Top 5 in assists, and import Nick Rakocevic has been a seamless fit.
Magnolia has a tough schedule ahead of them, though. Upcoming games against Phoenix, SMB, Bay Area, and Meralco will test their mettle and warm them up for the playoffs.
Next two games: Blackwater, Phoenix
3. Barangay Ginebra (4-2)
Offensive Rating: 108.3 (6th) | Defensive Rating: 104.1 (5th)
After some rough patches on their offense in the early goings, Ginebra is back to being the best assists team this conference (league-best 24.2 APG). They only had a 98.1 offensive rating in their first two games, but their crisp ball movement has led to a higher level of offensive efficiency in the last four games. Defensive weapon Jamie Malonzo is proving he could also thrive on offense, and Stanley Pringle is shooting the ball really well (52% clip on 5.5 3PA).
The Gin Kings also boast the feat of being the only team to chalk up a loss on the two top squads (Bay Area, Magnolia), and they’re still the more balanced group when compared to Converge.
Next two games: SMB, Blackwater
4. Converge FiberXers (5-2)
Offensive Rating: 110.7 (T-2nd) | Defensive Rating: 105.6 (8th)
With a couple of big wins against SMB and TNT, Converge is suddenly a half-game away from the second seed. The FiberXers’ offense has been exceptional throughout the conference, and their defense has been steadily improving. From a rank of 11th in defensive rating a couple of weeks ago, they have now jumped to 8th in that category. Having proven that they could beat the elite contenders, Converge will surely be a team to watch when the stakes are higher in the playoffs.
Next two games: NLEX, Phoenix
5. Phoenix Super LPG (5-3)
Offensive Rating: 99.1 (11th) | Defensive Rating: 97.0 (2nd)
Losing their top two players (Matthew Wright, Jason Perkins) and starting off with a 0-3 record did not stop the Fuel Masters from dreaming big this conference. They are the hottest team right now, having beaten Ginebra and TNT during their current five-game winning streak. It’s very hard to score against Phoenix’s second-ranked defense; with the exception of a 101-91 defeat to Bay Area, Phoenix has held all their opponents under 100 points.
Import Kaleb Wesson is getting better as the conference progresses, and their triumvirate of Tyler Tio, Javee Mocon, and Encho Serrano are consistently putting up good games. Let’s see if they could keep this streak going, as their upcoming schedule will consist of a three-game stretch against Converge, Magnolia, and SMB.
Next two games: NLEX, Converge
6. San Miguel Beermen (3-3)
Offensive Rating: 110.2 (4th) | Defensive Rating: 110.0 (T-10th)
SMB’s three wins this conference have come against teams in the bottom half of the standings (NorthPort, Rain or Shine, NLEX). It’s good that they’re taking care of the games they’re supposed to win, but the Beermen are also 0-2 against the top squads (Converge, Bay Area). Looking at the bright side, June Mar Fajardo may be coming back after a couple of weeks and new import Devon Scott seems to be blending better with the team (albeit the small sample size of three games) as compared to their first two imports. The Beermen are in for a tough set of battles, as they are scheduled to go up against Ginebra, Magnolia, Phoenix, and TNT in the second half of the eliminations.
Next two games: Ginebra, Magnolia
7. TNT Tropang Giga (3-4)
Offensive Rating: 108.5 (5th) | Defensive Rating: 104.7 (6th)
Even though they lost three of their last four games, there’s still no need to push the panic button for TNT. They rank 5th and 6th in offensive and defensive rating, and they still have a very deep roster, especially if they can resolve the issues surrounding star guard Mikey Williams. However, the Tropang Giga have to get rid of the quarter-long droughts they almost always find themselves in, like the seven-point first quarter in the loss to Phoenix and a 15-point opening period against NLEX (also resulted in a loss).
Next two games: Terrafirma, Meralco
8. NLEX Road Warriors (3-3)
Offensive Rating: 108.1 (7th) | Defensive Rating: 111.3 (12th)
Earl Clark is as good as his stacked resume; he’s averaging 33.3 points on 58% shooting from the field, while also adding 18.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 3.3 blocks to his tally. Kevin Alas and Don Trollano are still reliable shot-makers, and Matt Nieto provides head coach Frankie Lim with another playmaker outside of Alas. But their defense is the bigger problem. Even with Clark and Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser manning the paint, NLEX just doesn’t have the length and mobility on the wing to disrupt opposing teams’ attacks from the perimeter.
Clark might just will the Road Warriors to the playoffs, but getting past the quarterfinals will be an uphill climb if they don’t do something to improve their defense.
Next two games: Converge, NorthPort
9. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (3-4)
Offensive Rating: 103.9 (8th) | Defensive Rating: 102.5 (3rd)
Rain or Shine still has a good chance to book a playoff seat. Despite their struggles on offense, they could still lean on their third-ranked defense to grind out a few more victories. Of course, a lot of questions still need to be answered in terms of their offense. Can import Steve Taylor Jr. improve his shooting percentages (45/17/58 shooting splits)? Is Rey Nambatac (12.0 points on 38% FG) enough of a franchise cornerstone to build around?
Next two games: NorthPort, Bay Area
10. NorthPort Batang Pier (3-4)
Offensive Rating: 102.5 (10th) | Defensive Rating: 110.0 (T-10th)
We had huge hopes for NorthPort at the start of the conference, but they have bottomed out on both offense and defense. Robert Bolick is still in that 20-point scoring group and his assist-to-turnover ratio is still very good (3.58), but his hot outside shooting has come to a halt in recent games (only shooting 29% from three this conference). Newcomer Will Navarro, who is primarily known for his defense, showed some offense in his debut for NorthPort. It’s unfair to expect Navarro to really move the needle here, but he and the Batang Pier have a good opportunity to rack up the wins, as their next three assignments are against teams at the bottom half of the standings (ROS, NLEX, Terrafirma).
Next two games: Rain or Shine, NLEX
11. Blackwater Bossing (3-5)
Offensive Rating: 98.6 (12th) | Defensive Rating: 104.9 (7th)
Blackwater’s defense has been average this conference, and that has gained the respect of their opponents. But their offense still needs a lot of fine-tuning, as they don’t have a lot of shooters to surround a playmaking big like Cameron Krutwig. Baser Amer has been one of the best guards this conference (18.4 points on 59.8% True Shooting), but there aren’t many contributions outside of Krutwig and Amer.
Next two games: Magnolia, Meralco
12. Meralco Bolts (1-5)
Offensive Rating: 103.5 (9th) | Defensive Rating: 109.3 (9th)
Meralco has taken a big hit from the absence of lead guard Chris Newsome. From a fourth-ranked offensive rating in the 2022 Philippine Cup, the Bolts’ offense hasn’t been as efficient this conference. They were the third-best team in moving the ball in their previous campaign, but with Newsome absent, they’re now just ranked 9th in total assists per game (21.7).
Can KJ McDaniels provide a big boost to the Bolts’ offense? They don’t have a lot of time to think about that, as they’re about to face the top-seeded Bay Area tomorrow.
Next two games: Bay Area, Blackwater
13. Terrafirma Dyip (0-7)
Offensive Rating: 96.7 (13th) | Defensive Rating: 116.2 (13th)
Juami Tiongson’s individual brilliance with his movement shooting and decisions off the pick-and-roll is the only reason why Terrafirma is worth watching when he’s on the court. Other than that, the team defense has been atrocious and the offense is suffering from an abundance of bad shots and turnovers. This is another lost campaign for Terrafirma, so maybe they could do something different in their remaining games. Maybe they could give more scoring opportunities to Javi Gomez de Liaño?
Next two games: TNT, NorthPort