The Top Ten Floor Generals in the PBA (heading into the 2013-2014 season)

A new PBA season is upon us, and with it comes renewed passion for the game all Pinoys love. Over the offseason, I have come to wonder about one thing – who are the best pro players we have right now? It’s a question that has been asked and answered many times already -- by many people, in many different times, in many different places, and using many different metrics (or no metrics at all).

Here’s my feeble take on the whole thing – a three-part series revolving around the best performers of the past season and how they might do in this new one. In this third part, I will focus on the best point guards of the PBA. Classically speaking, these are the guys who serve as the floor generals – the ones who orchestrate the plays and basically run the gameplan. There are PGs, though, who are a little different. For every Eric Snow, there’s an Allen Iverson – the PG who shoots first and consults his conscience afterwards. Needless to say, both kinds are well-represented in this list.

Please take note that this is based purely on the Efficiency Ratings for the entire 2012-2013 PBA season as calculated by Also, I won’t be taking the rookies into account yet, so don’t look for guys like Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, or Justin Melton.

And now, without further ado, here are the Top Ten Floor Generals in the PBA (heading into the 2013-2014 season):

Mercado, Barroca, Tenorio, and Casio. Who else joins them
as the PBA's top playmakers?
(composite image by Enzo Flojo/Hoop Nut)

10. Mark Barroca (SMC) – 8.7ppg, 3.7rpg, 3.5apg, 1.4spg, 24.34 EFF
- Barroca is used to being a little left of the spotlight. When he was an FEU Tamaraw, he played alongside more heralded teammates like JR Cawaling, Aldrech Ramos, Mac Baracael, and even RR Garcia, who entered the lineup in Barroca’s final UAAP season. He became part of Smart-Gilas Pilipinas, but mainly played second fiddle behind JV Casio. This time around, however, it seems Barroca has finally found a sweet little niche with the Mixers, where he is the primary playmaker. Last season, Barroca improved on all his rookie numbers while seeing a rise in playing time, and, as of this writing, it seems like the upward trend will continue. He is currently the Mixers’ leading scorer and their top steals guy.

9. Jimmy Alapag (TNT) – 10.2ppg, 4.9apg, 1.9 triples per game, 37.0 3pt%, 87.8 FT%, 25.05 EFF
- Someone as, er, seasoned as Alapag shouldn’t be averaging those numbers, right? I mean, this is a guy who is almost 36 summers old. He’s a veteran of so many wars, both locally and internationally. He has been battered and bruised too many times, and, yet, despite everything, he’s still one of the country’s best point guards. This guy, percentage-wise, is the best shooter on this list and this past August during the 2013 FIBA Asia tourney, he unleashed the full ferocity of his firepower (watch the last few minutes of the Gilas-Korea semifinal game if you’re not convinced). Most of his numbers dipped a little bit last season, but he seems bent on having a resurgence, as he is currently Talk N Text’s second leading scorer and top assists man.

8. Willie Miller (BAR) – 11.2ppg, 4.3rpg, 3.5apg, 1.3 triples per game, 25.44 EFF
- Here’s the thing – Miller is even older than Alapag! Man, we have two mid-30s guys in the Top 10!!! How insane is that?! Well, not so insane if you look at the kind of numbers Miller put up last season. The two-time PBA MVP played in his fourth team in the past four seasons (Alaska, Ginebra, Barako Bull, and GlobalPort), but his hopping-to-and-fro did not deter him from being an effective floor general. He was still one of the league’s deadliest perimeter scorers and playmakers, and though it was obvious he’s no longer as spry as he once was, he makes up for it with his trademark slyness and unorthodox style of play. Miller is now back with Barako Bull, but it looks like the years have caught up with him as he is currently norming career-lows in almost all departments.

7. Mike Cortez (MER) – 9.3ppg, 4.4rpg, 4.3apg, 1.3spg, 1.2 triples per game, 25.72 EFF
- How good can Mike Cortez be? How about rewinding to December ’12 and looking at his stat-line against the Tropang Texters – 21 points, EIGHTEEN ASSISTS, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. The Cool Cat, under the right conditions, is surely one of the league’s top playmakers. His final season averages were a little more muted than that awesome stat-line, but the fact is Cortez remains to be one of the most efficient point guards around. As of this writing, the former King Archer is scoring a little below his career average, but he is rebounding and assisting much better than usual. It’s no big wonder why the Bolts were okay with letting Chris Ross go.

6. Paul Lee (ROS) – 11.6ppg, 4.2rpg, 3.6apg, 1.4 triples per game, 27.29 EFF
- In terms of his offense, Lee had a bit of a slump in his sophomore year. All his shooting percentages took a nosedive and, as a result, his scoring took a bit of a hit, too. Still, the former King of Recto was a guy nobody could afford to leave open. Despite a couple of lingering injuries, he was still instrumental in helping Rain or Shine have a solid 2012-2013 campaign. Right now, however, his production has been a little alarming, as most of his numbers have gone down anew. He’s currently putting up just 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists per game, with his 18.70 EFF rating through three games a career-low.

5. JV Casio (ALA) – 12.0ppg, 3.3rpg, 4.5apg, 2.0 triples per game, 27.81 EFF
- JV Casio focused on his scoring a bit more in the previous season, which resulted in his assists going from 6.4 in 2011-2012 to just 4.4 in 2012-2013. He was aggressive from almost everywhere, as evidenced by his taking 57 more three-pointers and 55 more free throws (he played only 6 more games last season compared to his rookie season). It looks like the trend is continuing this year, too, with Casio shooting and assisting just about as much as last season. Is this a good thing for coach Luigi Trillo and the Aces? Well, one cannot argue with their Commish Cup title in 2012, and though they’re currently mired in a 1-3 hole, it would be foolish to prematurely count Casio and his Alaska crew out.

4. Alex Cabagnot (PET) – 11.9ppg, 3.7rpg, 5.1apg, 1.1spg, 1.2spg, 1.3 triples per game, 29.44 EFF
- Cabaggie has yet to play this season, but his Petron Blaze Boosters are firmly entrenched at the top with a 3-0 slate. Does this mean Cabagnot has become expendable? Absolutely not. It’s just a testament to the depth of coach Gee Abanilla’s roster. When Cabagnot returns, in fact, the Boosters should be even more dangerous. I mean, look at the numbers they’re missing! This guy is good enough to be one of the best PGs not just in the country, but in the whole continent (take it from this FIBA Asia addict). Pao Hubalde and Chris Ross have been doing a solid job for Petron, but when Cabagnot makes a comeback, every other team better watch out.

3. Jayson Castro (TNT) – 14.5ppg, 4.4rpg, 3.7apg, 30.98 EFF
- Castro was named as a member of the 2013 FIBA Asia first team for good reason. The Blur was just pure awesomeness in that tournament, and he was equally as good in the entire PBA season. This former PCU Dolphin is just a super threat anywhere coach Norman Black puts him. He is maybe the quickest off-the-dribble slasher in all of Asia, and his midrange and perimeter games aren’t things to scoff at either. As of this writing, Castro is averaging about 23 points, 6 boards, 4 assists, and 1 steal per game while making almost three treys per contest. Translation? As good as this guy has been, his very best might be yet to come.

2. LA Tenorio (GIN) – 14.0ppg, 5.0rpg, 5.8apg, 1.5spg, 1.6 triples per game, 31.99 EFF
- To say that Tenorio had an MVP-worthy season last year is a bit of an understatement. I mean, he averaged career-highs in scoring, assists, and steals. He became the new face of the Gin Kings (sorry, Mark Caguioa), and he was very effective in his stints with the national team. I don’t know about you, but I think the Lieutenant is still peaking. Right now, the former King Eagle is norming around 14 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals per outing. If he can put up those numbers on a relatively consistent basis, then a conference title and, maybe, just maybe, an MVP trophy will finally materialize.

1. Sol Mercado (GLO) – 16.2ppg, 3.6rpg, 6.9apg, 1.0spg, 1.5 triples per game, 32.91 EFF
- Throughout his young pro career, Mercado has been known chiefly as a score-first point guard, but last season he defied that image by averaging nearly 7 dimes per game. It needs no mentioning that he led the entire league in the assists department. I won’t be surprised, in fact, if he becomes a legit MVP contender this season. The only problem, of course, is whether he can be the kind of leader who’ll give the Batang Pier the wins they need to be considered among the league’s elite. Right now, the Sol Train’s scoring is a little lower than last season (he is teammates with Terrence Romeo, you know), but I won’t be at all surprised if he makes up for this with better numbers in other areas.

Outside looking in:
Chris Ross (PET) – 22.16 EFF
Josh Urbiztondo (GIN) – 20.95 EFF
Denok Miranda (BAR) – 20.33 EFF
Jayjay Helterbrand (GIN) – 18.85 EFF
Chris Tiu (ROS) – 18.26 EFF

Promising Rookie PGs:
Terrence Romeo (GLO)
RR Garcia (GLO)
Justin Melton (SMC)
Jeric Fortuna (BAR)
LA Revilla (GLO)

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