PBA Power Rankings: San Miguel Beermen, NorthPort Batang Pier impress after first week of action

June Mar Fajardo and the Beermen are back after winning their first two games. PBA Media Bureau

Week 1 of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup is in the books there are teams that have impressed teams with much to improve. With the action about to get more intense, we asked our experts Sid Ventura and Normie Riego to rank each squad after the opening week.

1. San Miguel Beermen Overall record: 2-0 Up next: Magnolia

San Miguel ruled over the All-Filipino conference from 2014-19 on June Mar Fajardo's back. Ginebra and TNT won the last two Philippine Cups because Fajardo was recovering from a fractured right tibia. That injury now looks like it's long gone and "The Kraken" is back. Posting a per game double-double of 16.5 points and 14.5 rebounds to go along with 3.0 assists and 1.5 blocks in back-to-back victories versus Phoenix and then NLEX, Fajardo is again the difference-maker and force-multiplier for an SMB side that is also seeing strong starts from CJ Perez and Chris Ross. -- Riego

2. NorthPort Batang Pier Overall record: 2-0 Up next: Magnolia, Blackwater

The Batang Pier are off to an impressive start in the Philippine Cup, beating Rain or Shine by 13 and Terrafirma by 14 to grab a share of the early lead. NorthPort is tops in free throw percentage at 76% and offensive rebounds at 19.0 per game. Leading the way is Mythical Second Team member Robert Bolick, who's putting up 24.0 points per game so far. But Coach Pido Jarencio said after their win over the Dyip that their good showing is largely due to their chemistry on and off the court, describing their practices as "fun." -- Ventura

3. Blackwater Bossing Overall record: 1-1 Up next: NorthPort

If not for back-to-back turnovers from Baser Amer, Blackwater could have had back-to-back triumphs over powerhouses TNT and Ginebra. Still, Jvee Casio's and Yousef Taha's resurgence coupled with the rise of youngsters Rey Suerte and Ato Ular are a welcome developments for the league's longtime bottom-feeders. If Amer, Barkley Ebona, and Joshua Torralba can consistently contribute, then Blackwater may at least have a winning formula. -- Riego

4. TNT Tropang Giga Overall record: 2-1 Up next: NLEX, Meralco

The defending champions could have easily fallen to the lower half of the rankings if it weren't for Jayson Castro's clutch basket with four seconds left against Converge. The Tropang Giga got their title defense off to a good start with a win over Magnolia on opening day, but then dropped their next game against Blackwater. A second straight loss was looming until Castro came to the rescue. TNT is still without last season's Rookie of the Year Mikey Williams, but coach Chot Reyes said they're hopeful he'll be arriving soon. In the meantime, Reyes wants his players to work on their free throws, as far they're shooting just 64%, including 10 misses versus the Bossing. -- Ventura

5. NLEX Road Warriors Overall record: 1-1 Up next: TNT

NLEX dug deep and came from behind in their season-opener against Terrafirma, but didn't conjure the same sort of magic opposite San Miguel the next game. Inconsistency has been the Road Warriors' enemy thus far, as they followed up a 74-point second half in their comeback win with a hot-starting 33-point first quarter before losing the fire en route to their first loss. Calvin Oftana is proving to be a rising star in his second season, but Kevin Alas has to have his imprint for the most part -- or even better, at all times -- if NLEX is to move forward. -- Riego

6. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters Overall record: 1-1 Up next: Ginebra, Phoenix

It's been an uneven start for Rain or Shine. In the very first game of the 2022 season, the Elasto Painters squeaked past newcomers Converge. Four days later, they were thoroughly outplayed by the Batang Pier. Rebounding has been an issue for Rain or Shine; they're in the lower third with only 42.5 boards per game. And like the Tropang Giga, they need to improve their free throw shooting as they're ranked second-to-last with a 61% clip. On the plus side, sophomore Santi Santillan has been putting up good numbers of 17.0 points and 8.0 boards per outing. -- Ventura

7. Meralco Bolts Overall record: 1-0 Up next: Converge, TNT

Meralco was impressive in their conference debut, counting six players in double-digits, led by Chris Newsome's 21 points. He also tallied seven rebounds and seven assists, yet again proving to be the primary generator for the Bolts. Aaron Black's continued ascent into the upper echelon of guards is a good sign as well, and so was Bong Quinto's move to the bench in favor of Allein Maliksi. One thing about that promising showing, however? It came against Phoenix Super LPG, who are still in the process of figuring out who they are as a team. -- Riego

8. Barangay Ginebra Overall record: 1-0 Up next: Rain or Shine, Magnolia

By virtue of their Governors' Cup title, the Gin Kings were the last team to see action in the Philippine Cup. Understandably, they looked rusty against Blackwater, missing nine free throws and coughing up the ball 18 times. A late collapse by Blackwater plus a clutch jumper by Japeth Aguilar with seven seconds left saved Ginebra from a bad start, and it's just as well. A loss would have spoiled LA Tenorio's 700th straight game (he still hasn't missed a single one since turning pro in 2006) and Tim Cone's 1,500th game as PBA coach. -- Ventura

9. Converge FiberXers Overall record: 1-2 Up next: Meralco

Converge was a Beau Belga stepback 3-pointer and a Jayson Castro endgame takeover away from a 3-0 start under their new franchise name. Alas, Belga and Castro rejected that bid and the FiberXers find themselves much like the Alaska Aces did for much of last season: at the bottom half of the standings. Nonetheless, Jeron Teng has positioned himself as the franchise's cornerstone, while Justin Arana and Jeo Ambohot have made an immediate impact as rookie bigs. And RK Ilagan? Well, he's just a joy to watch, isn't he? All 5-foot-8 inches of him. -- Riego

10. Magnolia Hotshots Overall record: 0-2 Up next: NorthPort, San Miguel, Ginebra

The Hotshots, runners-up in the 2021 Philippine Cup, are off to a rough start in the 2022 edition. They lost on opening day to defending champion TNT, then blew a 20-point lead and lost in overtime to Converge. Scoring has been down across the board so far, but the Hotshots have been really bad on offense. They have the worst free throw percentage of teams that have played at least two games (60%), are tied for last in 3-point shooting (20%), are last in assists (15.5) and are first in turnovers (19.0). It doesn't get any easier for them in Week 2 as they take on two unbeaten teams, one of them being their archrivals. -- Ventura

11. Phoenix Super LPG Overall record: 0-2 Up next: Terrafirma, Rain or Shine

The schedule hasn't been kind to Phoenix Super LPG, who had to begin their campaign against San Miguel and then had to turn their attention to Meralco. The Fuel Masters haven't been kind to themselves either, though, as aside from top guns Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins, they have looked disjointed. The good news is, perhaps more time for adjustment for new guy Javee Mocon and more experience for rookies Tyler Tio, Encho Serrano, and Chris Lalata -- as well as the return of veteran Sean Anthony -- will be just the big boost they need moving forward. -- Riego

12. Terrafirma Dyip Overall record: 0-2 Up next: Phoenix

The first 24 minutes of the Dyip's season looked promising. They built a 47-31 lead over NLEX behind the inspired play of Joseph Gabayni. But Calvin Oftana lit them up for 18 points in the fourth, and Terrafirma couldn't hang on. It only got worse for Terrafirma in their second game as three players -- Isaac Go, Eric Camson and Ed Daquioag -- were all injured against NorthPort. Daquioag's injury was particularly gruesome as he snapped a bone in his lower leg following a bad fall. Sadly, he's out for the rest of the conference and maybe most of the second. Go will have an MRI on his knee, while Camson, who injured his back in another bad fall, is day-to-day with back spasms. -- Ventura