This week, Alaska showed its dominance, remaining as the only team without a loss after two weeks of PBA basketball. Much of the landscape is still unchanged with Petron and San Mig Coffee as the only exceptions. With a demoralizing loss against the Petron Blaze Boosters, SMC drops down two spots. Also, with two convincing wins, we can finally start asking — is the Petronovela over? The rest is relatively the same. Alaska, TNT and ROS still have a stranglehold on the top 3 spots with Globalport and Petron slowly breaking in and the rest of the league being “meh” worthy.
Presenting, our Week 2 PBA Power Rankings.
High Risers: Petron Blaze Boosters (+4)
Freefallers: San Mig Coffee Mixers (-2)
1.) Alaska Aces (Previous: 3 | Record: 3-0)
– Gatas Republik is playing some inspired basketball. With a win last Sunday against the other undefeated team, Gatas Republik has taken the lead in the power rankings. As we tweeted today in our stat trivia, the Aces aren’t winning with their offense – scoring 94.51 points/100-possession (a rate that’s barely above league average). No, they are winning with their defense. And how do they play defense? They force you to take contested 3-PT shots and limit you to just one shot every time down the court. A sound strategy – kudos to Coach Trillo.
2.) Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters (Previous: 1 | Record:1 -1)
– Talk ‘n Text drops by one spot not because they had a bad week but because Alaska had such a good week. TNT won a close game against Air21. Their team and chemistry is still not where it’s supposed to be. With two games this week (and one against the suddenly formidable GlobalPort Batang Pier), we’ll see whether TNT can finally find the form they displayed last conference.
3.) Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (Previous: 3 | Record: 1-1)
– Like Talk ‘n Text, Rain or Shine finally got its first win today. They also dropped by one rank not because of what they did but because of Alaska. One positive that they can continue to hold on to — Bruno Sundov will be an unstoppable scorer this conference. Offensive Rating of 114.6, True Shooting Percentage of 62.6% and an effective field goal of 57.4%. He’s like the Yao Ming of the PBA — he’s tall and can shoot and he uses this with great precision, executing almost unblockable shots from the post. With Chan out, they’ll need the rest of the crew to pitch in. Ryan Araña stepped in with 20 points (on just 11 shots). Who will it be next time around?
4.) Globalport Batang Pier (Previous: 4 | Record: 2-1)
– The MMDA quartet is finally settling down — with Gary David as the perimeter threat, Aguilar as the inside threat, Mercado as the facilitator and Willie Miller (hopefully) as the spark off the bench. They still lack any depth — Mark Yee being the only exception. The good news? Willie Miller is struggling and they’re still 2-1. The bad news? Miller doesn’t look comfortable within the framework of this new team. And with their lack of depth, that will be a huge problem. They need all the help they can get.
5.) Petron Blaze Boosters (Previous: 5 | Record: 2-1)
– Is the Petronovela over? With two convincing wins, Petron looks like they are getting it. They are the top offensive team in the league (by a wide margin, I might add) and the third best defensive team in the league. I’m not even surprised with Balkman’s dominance – ORTG of 108 and a combined 4.7 on steals and blocks. The most surprising thing about Petron’s rise to the top? Jay Washington finally “getting it”. Last season, Jay Washington was a liability on offense — not aggressive enough to get to the rack and couldn’t make enough outside shots to keep the defense honest. Now? Jay Washington has hit four treys in 3 games — that’s one less than the amount of threes that JayWash hit last conference (in 14 games). I should warn you about SSS (small sample size) but Jay Wash dominating means only good things for the Boosters.
6.) Barako Bull Energy Cola (Previous: 6 | Record: 2-1)
– Ah, the controversial team. The Energy Colas are winning partly because of their offense — which ranks 3rd in the entire league. If you looked at their numbers, only one thing stands out — their three point shooting. Not only are they the top three point attempting team in the league but they are also the top three point making team in the league. Biggest reason for this? Rajko Toroman and Josh Urbiztondo. Toroman has pushed these boys far greater than what I expected of them. None more surprising than Urbiztondo — who’s hitting 42.4% of his 11 3PT attempts per game. OUCH. Don’t expect this trend to continue though. The three point shot is the riskiest shot in the game. And although it’s efficient, the consistency of an offense that depends on this is not really reliable. Once Urbiztondo comes back down to earth (and he will), Barako’s lack of go-to-scorer will come back to haunt them.
7.) San Mig Coffee Mixers (Previous: 5 | Record: 0-2)
– A not so good start for the former semi-finalists. Matt “Good Guy” Rogers was not the import they expected. In just one game, Matt Rogers managed to score 20 points but took 19 shots and 9 free throws to get there. He wasn’t anything special on the other end — with the stronger, faster and more athletic Balkman being defended by Mark Pingris instead of Rogers. Denzel Bowles will be a better import for SMC. Will he be enough though? We’ll have to wait and see.
8.) Air21 Express (Previous: 7 | Record: 1-1)
– Dunigan has NOT been impressive at all. I’ve watched him play in both games and his moves are very rudimentary and he lacks the drive to continuously punish our smaller players. If you’re an athletic 6’10” basketball player that plays in a league with an average height of no more than 6’0″, you should be dominating. Outside of impressive blocks here and there, I feel like he’s a liability on both sides. He doesn’t use his body to position well for rebounds and defensive position. He is slow to run on fastbreaks and leakouts by the opponent. And his offensive repertoire isn’t impressive.
9.) Meralco Bolts (Previous: 8 | Record: 1-2)
– Just like Dunigan, Dawson has not met my expectation. This might have been an effect of that dominating game he had against TNT setting the bar too high for him. He’s still better as an offensive player than Dunigan but that’s not saying a lot. His offensive rating is just 5 points above league average. Compare that to Balkman (+14 above league average), Dozier (+23), Williams (+9) and Benson (+21), and you can see that his effect on his team’s offense isn’t as big as it should be. One tiny bright spot? Chris Ross. Despite his lack of scoring, Ross is playing the role that a player like him should play — rebound, play defense and orchestrate the offense. His impact goes beyond scoring. A Front runner for the MIP.
10.) Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (Previous: 10 | Record: 0-3)
– The Kings are struggling. Besides Caguioa, nobody on their roster is playing well. Even their import is struggling. Can Vernon Macklin change this? Who knows. Things aren’t going to get easier for Barangay Ginebra as they are set to face two surging teams in Petron and Alaska this coming week. It’s quite possible that Ginebra ends this week with an 0-5 record.