A hungry TNT Tropang Giga squad headlines this week’s games in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup.
The opening night of the 2022-23 PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday saw the Meralco Bolts and the Converge FiberXers score blow-out victories to start their respective campaigns. With their roster makeup, the Bolts and the FiberXers should be playoff contenders this conference, and they both have two games this week to continue proving their mettle.
Along with Converge and Meralco, seven teams are opening their Governors’ Cup run this week. Let’s look at the intriguing PBA matchups that are in store for us in the next few days.
Interesting Games To Watch
TNT versus Phoenix (January 25)
After missing the playoffs during the Commissioner’s Cup, the TNT Tropang Giga should be all-in for a bounce-back campaign. They acquired former Defensive Player of the Year Justin Chua in the offseason, a move that could help address their lack of size in the frontcourt. Their offensive firepower from the backcourt to the wing slots also makes this TNT squad a handful to deal with, especially if they’re getting a healthy Jayson Castro.
The first game of their campaign won’t come easy though, as they’re going up against a great defensive team in the Phoenix Super LPG. Phoenix produced the top defensive rating (100.1) last conference, although their offense wasn’t as good as their work on the other end. The Fuel Masters will bank on the continuous development of Javee Mocon and Tyler Tio, along with a healthier Jason Perkins.
NorthPort versus Meralco (January 26)
Without Robert Bolick, Arwind Santos, and Will Navarro in their last game, the NorthPort Batang Pier succumbed to a 30-point beating at the hands of Converge. Their import Marcus Weathers did produce 37 points on 12-of-22 shooting, but it seemed that the NorthPort offense stagnated a lot when he has the ball. Weathers was forced to a lot of one-on-one possessions, leading to some really difficult shots. The potential return of Bolick could help address that issue, as he could do wonders with Weathers in pick-and-roll situations.
But the Batang Pier will have to bring their A-game against Meralco, who clamped down on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last Sunday. The Bolts held the Elasto Painters to only 34% shooting and did a tremendous job building a wall against the penetrations of opposing import Michael Qualls, who just made three of his 22 field goal attempts.
Converge versus Magnolia (January 29)
Converge’s running game was on full display in their conference-opener win against NorthPort. They accumulated 26 fastbreak points on their way to a scintillating 51% shooting night that included a 40% clip from the three-point line. Veteran guard Maverick Ahanmisi was tremendous quarterbacking the offense, finishing with 29 points and 9 assists in the win.
But let’s see how Ahanmisi fares against the Magnolia Hotshots on Sunday, particularly against the pressuring backcourt duo of Jio Jalalon and Mark Barroca. Jalalon and Barroca have consistently been in the steals leaderboard, doing a good job of providing pressure on the opposing team’s ball-handlers and delaying their offense.
San Miguel versus Phoenix (January 29)
The San Miguel Beermen failed in their title bid last conference, but they’re bringing back a loaded roster that is aching for a championship run. Led by June Mar Fajardo, SMB had the second-best offensive rating during the Commissioner’s Cup, slotted just behind the top-ranked Bay Area Dragons.
Distributing playing time to a loaded, import-reinforced lineup will be a tough task for new head coach Jorge Gallent, but this team is already used to having so many weapons around. We’ll see how Gallent will utilize import Cameron Clark in his offense when SMB opens its campaign against the defensive-minded Phoenix squad on Sunday.