The Inaugural Baller Awards: The Best PBA Shooting Guard & Small Forward of 2013

In lieu of a PBA year-ender, I felt it would be better to go position-by-position and look at the best PBAers of 2013. These are the guys who did really well in the pro circuit. Perhaps they led their teams to conference titles. Perhaps they led the league in a certain statistical category. Perhaps they were part of Gilas Pilipinas and helped the team make history. Perhaps they did all of those things.

In this post, we will look at the top PBA wingmen of the year and award Baller Awards to the Best PBA Shooting Guard and Best PBA Small Forward of 2013.

Was Gabe Norwood one of the best PBA wingmen of 2013?
(image by Paolo Papa/AKTV)

The Shooting Guard Nominees:

Larry Fonacier – Talk N Text and Gilas Pilipinas
2012-2013 was a banner PBA season for Larry Fonacier, who averaged career-highs in rebounds, assists, and minutes played. He was big in helping TNT cop the 2012-2013 Philippine Cup and then played vital back-up role for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2013 FIBA Asia tourney. I remember him hitting a ton of shots against the Taiwanese in that tournament only to see them rally in the fourth for a stirring comeback win. It was painful to see Larry’s great shooting night spoiled, but at least the rest of Asia saw just how good he could be.

Jeff Chan – Rain or Shine and Gilas Pilipinas
Jeff Chan’s star continued to shine in 2013, even if his scoring dipped a little bit. His points-per-game dropped from 14.3 in 2011-2012 to 11.9 in 2012-2013, but he made up for this with an increase in rebounds and assists. More importantly, however, he hit a myriad of triples in Gilas Pilipinas’s FIBA Asia campaign. He connected on more than 56% of his field goals, including nearly 48% of his treys. What has he to show for? Well, he helped ROS barge into the 2013 Philippine Cup Finals and Gilas Pilipinas book a ticket to the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

Mark Caguioa – Ginebra Gin Kings
Caguioa continued to be one of the most charismatic and dangerous players in the PBA. His combination of flair and skill was a big reason Ginebra remained a title contender in each of the three conferences, though they could only go as far as the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, where they lost to Alaska in three games. He upped his scoring and assists numbers in 2013, and is currently one of the veteran leaders on a new-look Ginebra squad that is on top of the 2013-2014 Philippine Cup leaderboard.

James Yap – San Mig Coffee Mixers
Yap went through a lot in 2013, both on and off the court (thank you, Kris Aquino and that new Italian gal!). Despite his showbiz-skewed issues, however, Yap remained one of the most entertaining ballers in the PBA. The “Man with a Million Moves” may not have been the picture of efficiency, but he still had the penchant for hitting big shots and making big plays. In particular, he came up big as the Mixers upset the Boosters in the seven-game Govs’ Cup Finals that finished just about two months ago.

Gary David – Meralco Bolts (currently, but he played for GlobalPort Batang Pier last season) and Gilas Pilipinas
El Granada couldn’t really improve on the numbers he had in a career-defining 2011-2012 PBA season, but that doesn’t mean his performance in 2013 was anything to scoff at. On the contrary, David remained one of the deadliest shooters around. I mean, just ask the Kazakhs, who were on the receiving end of six three-point bombs from the former Powerade Tiger and GlobalPort Batang Pier. He hit nearly two treys a game last season, and he’s still hitting at that rate for his new team, the Meralco Bolts, in the current Philippine Cup. Rust? Yeah, David seems immune to that.

And the BALLER goes to…

This is a really tough position/category to decide, practically since all the aforementioned guys have been super awesome. And there are others who didn’t even make the cut, like the SG twins of Petron: Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz, or the Aces’ Cyrus Baguio. Still, I’ll give the slightest of edges to Chan, who enjoyed a Finals appearance with the Painters and was the most consistent gunner for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2013 FIBA Asia. He’s not exactly the second coming of Allan Caidic, but he’s probably as close as anyone will ever get.

Jeff Chan is our Best PBA SG of 2013. What do you think?
(image by Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5)

The Small Forward Nominees:

Calvin Abueva – Alaska Aces
Say what you want about how Abueva gets under everyone’s skin, including yours, but nobody can deny the fact he can ball with the best of ‘em. The former Golden Stag played well enough this year to not only put the ROY-MVP convo back on the table, but he also led the Aces to their first PBA title after Tim Cone left. Abueva would eventually win the season ROY, and even get an invite to try out for Gilas Pilipinas mid-year (he didn’t show up, though). He continues to be a thorn on every opponent’s side, but also continues to be one of the most versatile swingmen in the country.

KG Cañaleta – Air 21 Express and Gilas Pilipinas Cadets
He was the deadliest shooter for the Gilas Pilipinas Cadets early in 2013. He was named the season’s Most Improved Player. He recorded career-highs in scoring (16.7ppg), three-pointers made (101 total, 2.6 per game), and three-point shooting percentage (36.9%). He earned every single accolade he got. Now the one-trick pony dunker can shoot the lights out consistently and has the confidence to mix it up with the elite forwards of the league. Watch out.

Gabe Norwood – Rain or Shine and Gilas Pilipinas
Gabe Norwood doesn’t have eye-poppingly impressive stats from last season, but how great he is can never be measured by conventional basketball metrics anyway. He’s the Mr. Intangible of the PBA and, apparently, FIBA Asia 2013, too. The former Goerge Mason University playmaker’s numbers all went down this past season, except for one – steals. He upped his steals from 0.9 per game in 2011-2012 to 1.1 per game in 2012-2013. He was also Gilas’s best defender, making life tough for guys like Jimmy Baxter, Jarvis Hayes, and Cho Sung-Min. Remember his late block on Kim Min-Goo in the semifinals that basically clinched the win for us? Yeah, I still replay that in my head each night.

Joe Devance – San Mig Coffee Mixers
Yes, Devance isn’t the typical SF. In fact, he plays PF or even C sometimes for the Mixers, but who are we kidding here? He’s a natural 3 playing out of position as a 4 or even 5. In the Mixers’ conquest of Petron in the 2013 Govs’ Cup, Devance normed around 12 points in three of SMC’s wins, including hitting three big triples and ending up with 11 markers in the seventh game.

Danny Seigle – Talk N Text Tropang Texters (currently, but he played for Barako Bull Energy Cola last season)
It’s funny it took so long for a team to sign someone as good and timeless as Dynamite Danny. I mean, yes, he was on a bad team, but he was still a very productive small forward. He scored about a dozen points and pulled down about five rebounds in barely 21 minutes of play per game. For a guy who turned 37 in 2013? Those are really awesome numbers. He’s also doing well with the Texters now, averaging about 8 points and 7 boards per outing.

And the BALLER goes to…

Another toughie. Toss-up between KG and Gabe, but I’ll give Gabe the nod here really because of how invaluable he was in Gilas Pilipinas’s FIBA World Cup drive. The way he shackled most of the guys he was tasked to defend was a sight to behold, and, man, he was on-target with those midrange pull-ups, too. The great thing about Gabe is his timing. He knows when to make the plays that really count.

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