PBA Power Rankings: There's a new team at the top as early leaders falter

Japeth Aguilar is just one of three Ginebra players shooting better than 40% in this conference. PBA Media Bureau

There's a new top team in our PBA power rankings as Barangay Ginebra's recent, albeit shaky, showing vaulted them to the top. Meanwhile NorthPort Batang Pier and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters are trending in the wrong direction as both have fallen after a strong start. Sid Ventura and Eros Villanueva weigh in on all the teams after Weeks 2 and 3 in the Philippine Cup.

1. Barangay Ginebra

Week 1: 1-0
Weeks 2: 3-1
Total: 4-1
Previous rank: 8
Up next: Converge, Terrafirma, TNT

The Gin Kings' league-best record through two weeks in the Philippine Cup earned them a seat atop the power rankings. But they have been far from dominant, having won by an average of only 5.3 points last week around a five-point loss in a failed comeback against Magnolia. A healthy Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson, fresh off a 2021-22 season MVP campaign, are leading the charge, but the rest of the team has yet to get a rhythm going. Only three players -- Aguilar, Thompson and Christian Standhardinger -- are shooting above 40 percent from the field, and Ginebra as a whole only managed to churn out 95.0 points per 100 possessions, which per RealGM is a bottom-five mark. The good news is the defense has been elite, ranking third in defensive efficiency -- a mark which Ginebra never really scraped at any point in the season. Once the offense catches up, watch out. -- Villanueva

2. San Miguel Beermen

Week 1: 2-0
Weeks 2 and 3: 2-1
Total: 4-1
Previous rank: 1
Up next: Rain or Shine, NorthPort, TNT, Blackwater

The Beermen's 87-81 win over the Magnolia Hotshots in their lone game in Week 2 turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory after Chris Ross and Vic Manuel left the game with injuries with no timetable for their return. Already without Terrence Romeo, they dropped a crucial match against Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday before thumping the Converge FiberXers by 19 on Sunday. The win moved them into a tie for first place with Ginebra. Their 111 points against Converge is the highest single-game output so far this conference, and they'll need Jericho Cruz (22 points), Michael Canete (10) and Paul Zamar (9) to keep up their production and shore up their depleted bench. -- Ventura

3. Blackwater Bossing

Week 1: 1-0
Week 2: 2-1
Total: 3-1
Previous rank: 3
Up next: Meralco, Phoenix, San Miguel

Surprise! Blackwater is still here! Back-to-back wins -- including a franchise-record 37-point rout of Terrafirma -- gave Blackwater its first win streak since 2019, another sign that this is not the same team that lost a league-record 29 straight games last season. JVee Casio (14.5 points on 61.5 True Shooting) has looked incredible, rookie Ato Ular has been a revelation, while Yousef Taha (10.3 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists) has been a fine playmaking hub at the 5. If opposing teams can't shut the water off on offense (103.1 offensive rating, third), then maybe this ends up being the real deal. As it stands, the Bossing have been smashing teams through rim runs in the pick and roll, by attacking the transition, and by generating a lot of good looks off of screens -- three plays where they rank within the top three in points per possession, per InStat. Teams can start looking there for ideas on how to send them back to earth. -- Villanueva

4. TNT Tropang Giga

Week 1: 2-1
Weeks 2 and 3: 3-1
Total: 5-2
Previous rank: 2
Up next: NorthPort, Terrafirma, San Miguel, Ginebra

The Tropang Giga could have had a perfect Week 2 if not for a Don Trollano jumper that gave the NLEX Road Warriors a one-point win. TNT bounced back by winning its next three to become the first team to get to five wins, and got a big boost with the return of reigning Rookie of the Year Mikey Williams -- who finally suited up in Week 3 and immediately made his presence felt by pouring in 27 points against the Phoenix Fuel Masters. This is certainly a welcome development for the Tropang Giga's guard rotation with Jayson Castro and Ryan Reyes not 100% and Kib Montalbo out with a groin injury. -- Ventura

5. NLEX Road Warriors
Week 1: 1-1
Weeks 2: 2-1
Total: 3-2
Previous rank: 5
Up next: Phoenix, Magnolia, Converge, Rain or Shine

NLEX ended the week with a 15-point rout of Meralco, which was a nice change of pace after needing that clutch Trollano jumper to survive TNT and blowing a 19-point lead to Ginebra during that tough slate. A usually potent offense has not clicked (just 98.6 points per 100 possessions, sixth) to augment a middling defense. But the Road Warriors should feel good about themselves after surviving that killer schedule and should hit their stride with a relatively easier road ahead. The Hotshots are way better than their record suggests and are a tough draw. NLEX should be able to rely on Calvin Oftana (still ascending), Kevin Alas, and Trollano to power them past Phoenix, Converge and Rain or Shine, who have a combined 5-12 record between them. -- Villanueva

6. Magnolia Hotshots

Week 1: 0-2
Weeks 2 and 3: 3-1
Total: 3-3
Previous rank: 10
Up next: NLEX, Terrafirma

The Hotshots somehow managed to survive a brutal Week 2 schedule which saw them play three games in five days. Coach Chito Victolero went on the record to complain about it, but in the end Magnolia emerged with a 2-1 record over that stretch. This included a huge Manila Clasico win over Barangay Ginebra that prevented them from falling into a 1-4 hole. In their lone Week 3 game, the Hotshots plastered the Fuel Masters by 18 to level their record at 3-3. They pulled it off despite the continued absence of injured guard Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva's ejection late in the Ginebra game and subsequent suspension against Phoenix. -- Ventura

7. Meralco Bolts

Week 1: 1-0
Weeks 2 and 3: 2-2
Previous rank: 7
Up next: Blackwater, Rain or Shine

Is Aaron Black slander still a thing? Nineteen players have attempted over 13 shots a game, but no one has been more efficient than Black, who is averaging 18.3 points (fourth in the league) on a ridiculous 63.7 TS% that leads all those guys. With Chris Banchero still not quite his old self, the son of Bolts head coach Norman Black has aptly filled the role of a shifty guard who can go north to south with ease. He can score in a variety of ways and be a decent secondary playmaker to Chris Newsome in the backcourt. The Bolts haven't necessarily capitalized -- they lost by 15 to NLEX and dropped a close one to TNT, a game which Aaron missed due to a minor injury . They project to be better overall, however, as long as the current so-so defense (98.5 defensive rating, eighth) normalizes and catches up to a good offense (101.9 offensive rating, fourth). -- Villanueva

8. Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters

Week 1: 0-2
Weeks 2 and 3: 2-2
Total: 2-4
Previous rank: 11
Up next: NLEX, Blackwater

It's been a rollercoaster ride for the Fuel Masters so far. After an 0-2 start, Phoenix brought its record to .500 with impressive wins against the Terrafirma Dyip and Rain or Shine in Week 2. Then Week 3 saw them lose by double digits to the Hotshots and Tropang Giga. The Fuel Masters' offense has sputtered in the past week; after averaging 98.3 points per game in their first four outings, they only managed 74.5 points against Magnolia and TNT. The good news is that Sean Anthony is finally back to add some veteran smarts and scoring punch off the bench. -- Ventura

9. Converge FiberXers

Week 1: 1-2
Weeks 2 and 3: 1-2
Total: 2-4
Previous rank: 9
Up next: Ginebra, NLEX, NorthPort

It may get uglier before it gets better for Converge. The PBA's newest franchise -- already missing top player Jeron Teng, who is out indefinitely with a hip injury -- is hoping Justin Arana (sprained ankle), Kurt Lojera (bruised eye) and and Jeo Ambohot (health and safety protocols) don't end up missing a lot of time, if any, with a tougher schedule looming. Losing two games last week to Meralco and San Miguel by an average of 17.5 points is never encouraging, but there are silver linings; Maverick Ahanmisi (14.5 points on 61.8 TS%) looks ready for an even heavier load, while Taylor Browne (8.0 points on an insane 86.5 TS%) is making a case for more minutes (13.8) than he is playing now. -- Villanueva

10. NorthPort Batang Pier

Week 1: 2-0
Weeks 2 and 3: 0-3
Total: 2-3
Previous rank: 2
Up next: TNT, San Miguel, Converge

The Batang Pier's promising 2-0 start has been all but negated by a three-game losing streak that has sent them tumbling down the standings. NorthPort needs a little more consistency; the Batang Pier are averaging 97.0 ppg in wins but just 84.3 in losses. Robert Bolick is leading the league in scoring with 19.4 ppg, but is shooting just 38% from the field. A bright spot is the play of rookie JM Calma, who is averaging 8.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per contest. It won't get any easier for the Batang Pier in Week 4 as they take on heavyweights TNT and SMB. --Ventura

11. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters

Week 1: 1-1
Weeks 2 and 3: 0-3
Total: 1-4
Previous rank: 6
Up next: San Miguel, Meralco, NLEX

All three losses were winnable for the Elasto Painters, who lost by an average of just 4.3 points to TNT, Phoenix, and Ginebra over the past two weeks. The usually tremendous defense has been absent, which explains a huge chunk of their struggles; Rain or Shine has allowed teams to score 101.2 points per 100 possessions, which is the fourth-worst mark right now. Wins aren't guaranteed even if that figure returns to their norm, especially with a tougher schedule ahead, but a correction on defense should be a step in the right direction. One bright spot on that end of the floor: Gian Mamuyac, who is already making a mark. Opponents have shot 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) with the Ateneo product as the primary defender, per InStat's tracking data, and he is leading all rookies in steals with 1.5 a game. -- Villanueva

12. Terrafirma Dyip

Week 1: 0-2
Weeks 2and 3: 0-3
Total: 0-5
Previous rank: 12
Up next: TNT, Ginebra, Magnolia

Things continue to go from bad to worse for the Dyip, who are still in search of their first win. After losing three players to injury in Week 1, they lost their next three games by an average of 24.3 points. This included a 107-70 shellacking at the hands of the Bossing, the largest losing margin so far in the Philippine Cup. Terrafirma is shooting just 36% from the field and is putting up a league-worst 83.2 points per game. Last season's Most Improved Player Juami Tiongson is a bright spot (14.8 ppg), but he is one of only three Dyip players averaging double digits in scoring. -- Ventura