PBA Governors’ Cup Preview: The Elites

Our preview of the 2022-23 PBA Governors’ Cup resumes with the four teams primed for championship contention.

pba governors' cup
Original photos via PBA Images

In the upcoming Governors’ Cup, there will be teams that might struggle right out of the gates, while others might sneak their way toward serious title contention.

Then, of course, there are the powerhouse contenders that both have the personnel and system that could help them hoist the championship trophy a couple of months from now. Let’s take a look at these elite squads below.

Barangay Ginebra

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
109.5 (3rd)
102.6 (4th)
Won Title

Continuity, a proven system, a championship roster, and even potential — this Ginebra team definitely has it all. Justin Brownlee, who is turning 35 years of age this April, hasn’t lost a step and seems to have gotten better as a playmaker. Key cogs Scottie Thompson, Christian Standhardinger, Jamie Malonzo, and Japeth Aguilar can be relied upon when they’re fully healthy.

The 38-year-old LA Tenorio may again see his workload “managed” in the eliminations, so this would be the perfect opportunity for Stanley Pringle to return to at least near his old deadly form. He might not be able to bring back his GlobalPort glory days, but if he could shoot the three-ball almost as efficiently as he did in Game 5 of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, the Gin Kings would take it.

Ginebra will be the team to beat this conference, as they’re bringing back the same roster that just won the title a week ago.

Magnolia Hotshots

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
105.6 (6th)
101.3 (Tied-2nd)
Eliminated in Semifinals

Last conference, Magnolia finished the eliminations tied with the Bay Area Dragons for the best record. A Paul Lee game-winner helped them take Game 2 of their semifinals matchup against Ginebra, but they would lose the next two games by an average margin of 19 points.

The ending to their campaign was a bummer but the Hotshots still carry a lot of momentum this upcoming conference. Led by Jio Jalalon’s career-high 2.2 steals average in the Commissioner’s Cup, Magnolia’s defense is still one of the best in the league. On the other end, Paul Lee simmered from downtown, hitting 45% from three (5.9 3PA), also a career-high.

The Hotshots are not known for relying on the three-ball, but they’re bringing in new import Erik McCree, a known long-range gunner. McCree’s ability to space the floor will should provide more balance to an already-cohesive Magnolia squad.

San Miguel Beermen

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
110.3 (2nd)
106.6 (7th)
Eliminated in Semifinals

A fully healthy San Miguel squad will be a pleasure to watch this conference. The 33-year-old June Mar Fajardo is still a highly-efficient beast down low, having averaged 18.0 points on 58.2% True Shooting during the Commissioner’s Cup. The Beermen also had two of their shooters locked and loaded, with Marcio Lassiter (47% on 5.7 3PA) and Simon Enciso (44% on 4.8 3PA) hitting their strides from deep.

Cameron Clark, an already-familiar face in the PBA, is San Miguel’s import of choice for the Governors’ Cup. The chemistry might not be as seamless as they want at first, as Clark doesn’t deal a lot of damage from the perimeter. During his stint with the NLEX Road Warriors last season, Clark only averaged 1.5 three-point attempts, making just 11.1% of those shots.

Spacing might be an issue for the Clark-Fajardo frontcourt early on, but there’s no doubt that they will eventually figure something out. We haven’t even mentioned CJ Perez and Terrence Romeo, showing you just how deep this San Miguel squad is.

TNT Tropang Giga

Team Stats Last Conference

Offensive Rating Defensive Rating Result
105.9 (5th)
106.3 (5th)
Finished 11th

The Tropang Giga may have finished with the third-worst record during the Commissioner’s Cup, but there are reasons to believe they will bounce back this conference. For one, they were one of only two teams that produced Top-5 offensive and defensive ratings (the other team being Ginebra). TNT also lost by only six points or less in half of the eight defeats they suffered last conference, so maybe a couple of lucky bounces of the ball could have steered their fate in a different direction. 

Trading for Justin Chua is also a significant move for the Tropang Giga. Chua is just three years removed from winning the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020. He’s not vertically athletic, but Chua occupies a lot of space inside and he’s big enough to at least make other bigs work for their shots. On offense, Chua sets good screens, which is important in freeing the likes of Mikey Williams, RR Pogoy, Jayson Castro, and their new import Jalen Hudson.

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