PBA Governors’ Cup Preview: Middle-Pack Squads

Let’s continue our preview of the 2022-23 PBA Governors’ Cup with the four middle-pack teams that have the tools to ascend to elite status.

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Original photos via PBA Images

We started our preview of the upcoming Governors’ Cup with a quick breakdown of the four teams that might struggle out of the gates. Today, let’s take a look at the squads that have what it takes to bring the challenge to the elite teams.

Converge FiberXers

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
108.4 (4th)
108.4 (9th)
Eliminated in Quarterfinals

A slump at the latter part of their Commissioner’s Cup campaign should not dampen the potential that this Converge squad has. While it’s true that Quincy Miller did a lot (29.8 points) for their offense, the FiberXers should be able to translate their offensive success to the upcoming Governors’ Cup.

Their backcourt pairing of Aljun Melecio and Maverick Ahanmisi was underrated; they combined for 21.9 points and 6.9 assists, and they’re no slouch on the defensive end, particularly with Ahanmisi’s ability to defend positions one through three. Jeron Teng’s three-point shooting is progressing bit by bit, and Justin Arana has the makings of a star big man in the PBA.

Defense is where Converge needs to make major improvements. Known defensive stopper Kevin Racal is still regaining his true form, but this team has intriguing defensive pieces around, including Arana, Ahanmisi, and probably their new import Ethan Rusbatch.

NorthPort Batang Pier

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
104.8 (6th)
109.0 (11th)
Eliminated in Quarterfinals

Robert Bolick cementing his status as an elite guard in the league, along with the all-around emergence of Arvin Tolentino, headlined NorthPort’s campaign last conference. Their offense will thrive as long as Bolick is still around, but can they address their defensive woes with their current roster?

Acquiring Joshua Munzon via a trade that saw them ship Kevin Ferrer is intriguing. Munzon is a roller-coaster ride on offense; there are moments of brilliance but often he wants to do too much, which leads to poor shots and ill-advised passes. But Munzon, with his length on the wing, could be a good piece for the Batang Pier’s defense.

Depth is another problem for this team, which is why their signing of Paul Zamar could come to value. Roi Sumang has been up-and-down with his contributions, so having another back-up guard (Zamar) who can initiate the offense and make plays could come in handy.

Let’s see what their new import Marcus Weathers could bring to the table, but this NorthPort squad certainly will be a team to watch in the Governors’ Cup.

Phoenix Super LPG

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
103.3 (10th)
100.1 (1st)
Eliminated in Quarterfinals

After helping Phoenix become the top defensive team during the Commissioner’s Cup, head coach Topex Robinson has now taken his coaching genius back to the college ranks, as he has been hired as the new head coach of the De La Salle University in the UAAP. It’s indeed a setback for Phoenix, but it shouldn’t be a really steep fall. Jamike Jarin, who is set to fill in for the interim head coach role, has been Robinson’s lead assistant in Phoenix since 2020. 

With an already-solid foundation on defense in place, the Fuel Masters will have to work on their offense next. Javee Mocon and Tyler Tio were huge for them last conference, but the departure of Matthew Wright stripped them of a bonafide shot-creator and playmaker.

Their returning import Du’Vaughn Maxwell did display a propensity for involving his teammates (4.0 assists average) during the four games he played for Phoenix in the previous Governors’ Cup iteration. Let’s also see if Mocon, Tio, and even Encho Serrano can take the next step in their playmaking growth this conference.

Meralco Bolts

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
104.4 (8th)
108.7 (10th)
Finished 10th

Meralco’s absence in the last playoffs was something we were not used to, especially with how consistently well they have performed in the past five years or so. However, don’t count on the Bolts missing the big games this conference, especially if they get their roster in full health.

Chris Newsome, their star guard who only played one game in the Commissioner’s Cup, should be able to suit up this conference. There’s still no specific reports confirming his return, but his recent inclusion in the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers should be a positive sign.

Newsome, along with the return of import K.J McDaniels, should bode well for Meralco’s continuity. The Bolts are also banking on the continuous growth of Aaron Black and Bong Quinto, who were able to assume takeover roles for the Bolts when Newsome was nursing his calf injury.

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