This season is going to be an exciting one. 2 huge trades have been made that completely depleted some rosters (Meralco), while other teams were strengthened (GlobalPort). Don’t forget about the fact that there are imports coming in to further increase the level of play for this conference.
So, a day before the season starts, where does each team rank?? We take a look.
1.) Talk N’ Text Tropang Texters (Previous: 1 | Record: 12-2)
The deepest team in the league. They finished last season as the team with the best record and promptly finished Rain or Shine off in a 4-0 sweep in the Finals. The addition of Al-Hussaini and Keith Benson will beef up their frontcourt. With the guidance of Castro, Alapag, Reyes and Fonacier on the perimeter, this team is looking good.
2.) Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (Previous: 3 | Record: 9-5)
Coming off a disappointing finish last conference, the Elasto Painters will still feature the same team that it fielded in the past few conferences. With the addition of Bruno Sundov — a 7’3″ center who can hit 3s occasionally — Rain or Shine now has 3 legitimate big men who can shoot from deep add that to bangers Jervy Cruz and Larry Rodriguez and what you get is a very versatile set of bigs. This isn’t even including the all around utility man Gabe Norwood and their trio of potential perimeter players in Chris Tiu, Jeff Chan and Paul Lee.
3.) San Mig Coffee Mixers (Previous: 2 | Record: 10-4)
Joining TnT and RoS is another team that did not make a move this offseason. Good for them. They may not be as deep as the 2 other teams, but what they have going for them against the rest of the competition is chemistry — this team just fits. PJ Simon and James Yap (seriously, how long have these two played together?) will once again try to lead this team to the promised land. Marc Pingris will once again be at the center of a defense that was the stingiest last conference (allowing just 94.6 points/100 possession).
4.) Alaska Aces (Previous: 4 | Record: 8-6)
Their import isn’t anything impressive — nothing jumps out of the page for Robert Dozier. And that’s a huge problem. With other teams getting a boost from their imports, can Alaska afford to have a non high-impact import?? Yes they can — they still have Casio, Baguio, Abueva (who will probably improve from what was already an impressive showing) and Thoss to lean on. The talent disparity last conference between the top 5 and the bottom 5 was huge. So despite the negative prospect of their unimpressive import, can Coach Luigi Trillo find a way to make this team “greater than the sum of the parts”?
5.) Petron Blaze Boosters (Previous: 7 | Record: 6-8)
Unlike the other imports, Balkman has a proven track record with multiple stints in the NBA for the New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets as a defensive player. And he will fit right in on a team that needs some defensive identity. With the addition of Balkman and Tubid, Petron management understands that defense was their biggest weakness (ranking 8th worst in the league, allowing 100.7 points/100 possession). The question now is — can they rise above the drama that surrounded their talent filled roster?
6.) Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings (Previous: 6 | Record: 7-7)
Age seems to be slowly eating up what was once Barangay Ginebra’s core. Helterbrand and Caguioa are getting older, especially Helterbrand who had a pretty bad conference. Luckily for them they have a lot of young talent with them — Rico Maierhofer, Chris Ellis, LA Tenorio and Dylan Ababou. Can Herbert Hill give them a jolt offensively and allow them to challenge the top 4?
7.) Globalport Batang Pier (Previous: 10 | Record: 1 -13)
Anytime you add somebody as talented as Sol Mercado, you’re bound to improve — no matter how bad the fit is. With Willie Miller and Gary David already in the roster, are there enough possessions to go around for GBP to finally make the last conference a distant memory? I can see a 3 guard lineup featuring Willie, Sol and Gary David as an effective “run-and-gun” trio that will continually blitz teams with their aggressiveness and speed. GBP has a lot of problems (they ranked dead last in both offensive and defensive efficiency last conference) but will the addition of Sol Mercado (an average efficiency but high usage player), Japeth Aguilar and Justin Williams be enough to put GBP back on the map?
8.) Air21 Express (Previous: 8 | Record: 5-9)
The best of the worst — or the worst of the best. Whichever way you look at it, Air21 lacks talent (and so do the other 2 teams below them). Adding Michael Dunigan will help immensely (as I said in the roundtable). But it only goes to underscore how lacking this team is in terms of frontcourt talent. Players will once again be asked to shoulder loads far greater than what they can carry. They better hope that Baclao, Atkins and Salamat can translate their skills faster if they want to be competitive.
9.) Meralco Bolts (Previous: 5 | Record: 8-6)
Yes, that’s what happens when you trade your best player without receiving a significant player back. The possessions used by Sol Mercado will be nicely distributed to Cardona, Buenafe and Cliff Hodge. Will this be a case of addition by subtraction — where Meralco actually becomes better because they no longer have to depend as much on one player — or is management stupid enough to trade one of the better players in the league for nobodies? Eric Dawson will surely help but they lack perimeter shot creation — a skill that Mercado excels at.
10.) Barako Bull Energy Cola (Previous: 9 | Record: 4-10)
The addition of JC Intal and Jonas Villanueva will surely help a team that lacked any consistent shot creator. Danny Siegle is at the tail end of his career and he should not be asked to carry the offensive load anymore. But are they enough? Because even with their addition (and the addition of import Evan Brock), this team still clearly lacks talent and depth. They have a lot of role players that will excel with a shot creator but none who can actually create for themselves (with efficiency and regularity).