MANILA, Philippines - Parading a fully-loaded and healthy lineup, the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters have zoomed to a 4-0 start in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
With a complete roster, TNT scored their best start since the 2013 PBA Philippine Cup where they went on to win it all.
Gilas Pilipinas mainstays like Jayson Castro, Ranidel De Ocampo, and Jimmy Alapag are at the forefront of their early success as they top Rappler’s Power Rankings for this week.
1. Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters (4-0)
Game of the week (GOTW): The Tropang Texters battled toe-to-toe with the San Miguel Beermen on March 14, putting huge leads in the first half before surviving a late run behind Richard Howell and Jimmy Alapag, 107-99.
Next key game (NKG): Coach Norman Black’s troops will take a 4-day break before plunging back to action against the Meralco Bolts on Friday, March 21. They will have to check Brian Butch, who likes to shoot from everywhere on the court.
2. San Mig Super Coffee Mixers (2-0)
GOTW: Fresh from a Philippine Cup crown, it looks like the Mixers are again on track for a title run, winning their first two games in style. Against Ginebra on March 16, import James Mays had a colossal night, scoring 29 points and grabbing 29 rebounds for a 90-80 win.
NKG: San Mig’s mettle will be tested in a rematch of the Philippine Cup championship when they face Rain or Shine on March 22, Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
3. Air21 Express (2-2)
GOTW: The Express limited Josh Dollard to just 12 points to conquer Barako Bull on March 14. They led by as much as 35 points with guys like Asi Taulava, Mac Cardona, and Jonas Villanueva all getting into the groove. Herve Lamizana had a listless first half but exploded for 20 in the third quarter to help their cause.
NKG: The Express will try to extend their winning ways when they face the Meralco Bolts on Sunday, March 23 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
4. San Miguel Beermen (2-1)
GOTW: San Miguel trounced Ginebra San Miguel, 112-96 back with Josh Boone, who had 32 points and 21 rebounds in what would be his swan song for the Beermen. SMB totally outclassed Ginebra in a battle of crowd favorites. However, they were stopped by the TNT crew in their next meeting.
NKG: To get back on track, the Beermen must play sharp against a dangerous Rain or Shine crew on Marc h 19, Wednesday, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
5. Meralco Bolts (2-1)
GOTW: Behind a clutch three-pointer from import Brian Butch, the Bolts edged Barako Bull in a nerve-racking encounter, 104-99 to move to the upper half of the standings at 2-1.
NKG: Meralco will engage in a tough battle with league-leading Talk ‘N Text on Friday, March 21 at the Cuneta Astrodome with hopes of dealing the Texters their first loss. Butch must capitalize on his range to lure TNT bigs outside.
6. Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (1-1)
GOTW: The PBA Philippine Cup runner-ups wasted no time to recover from a loss against Barako Bull, waylaying Alaska 92-78 behind six triples from Jeff Chan who finished with a team-high 24 points.
NKG: San Miguel Beermen will try to deny Rain or Shine of a winning streak when they collide on Wednesday, March 19 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
7. Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (1-2)
GOTW: Barangay Ginebra fought neck and neck with San Mig Coffee, trailing by only 1 at the start of the fourth period. However, they lost steam in the end and got badly outrebounded in the offensive glass, as they fell, 80-90. Import Leon Rodgers was criticized after for taking too many shots, leading to speculations that other imports will come over and replace him.
NKG: Globalport Batang Pier is Ginebra’s next assignment on Friday, March 21 at the Cuneta Astrodome. Though winless, Ginebra must be wary of the physicality of Globalport’s bigs.
8. Barako Bull Energy (1-3)
GOTW: Barako Bull relied on 17 fourth quarter points from import Josh Dollard to come from behind and upset Rain or Shine, 110-106 on March 9. The scoring machine tallied 44 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in their lone win so far.
NKG: Barako Bull tries to avoid getting buried in the standings when they clash with San Miguel Beermen on Saturday, March 22 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, a tall task to overcome.
9. Alaska Aces (2-3)
GOTW: A strong finish from Rob Dozier gave Alaska their second win in five games, finally breaking out of a slump as they edged Air21, 88-78.
NKG: The other Aces however, like Dondon Hontiveros and Cyrus Baguio have been noticeably missing, just putting 12.5 PPG combined. Fortunately, Alaska will have lots of time to regroup and come out as a stronger team; they will return to action on March 29 in an out-of-town affair against San Miguel in Binan, Laguna.
10. Globalport Batang Pier (0-4)
GOTW: The Batang Pier’s golden chance of handing new head coach Pido Jarencio his first win went to waste against Meralco, when they failed to defend Brian Butch’s go-ahead triple that proved to be the telling blow.
NKG: Globalport’s next two games are tough. They shall lock horns with Ginebra on March 21 at the Cuneta Astrodome and will next face San Miguel on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. How they will fair against two powerhouse squads is a tough question for Jarencio’s troops. - Rappler.com