Rain or Shine eyes payback
The Manila Times
WHEN it comes to the Philippine Cup, Rain or Shine has been a consistent playoff performer. For 13 straight seasons, the Elasto Painters had been in the playoffs until the team fell short of their bid of making another run when they could only win four of 11 games and ended up at ninth place in the PBA’s most prestigious tournament. Gabe Norwood, a staple in the Elasto Painters’ franchise, had been a part of those runs, but saw that streak snapped when the team just couldn’t crack the top eight and failed to advance past the elimination round for the second straight conference. Caloy Garcia, head of the team’s basketball operations, said the team was disappointed for failing to make the playoffs for the second straight conference. In last season’s Governors’ Cup, the squad reinforced by returning import Henry Walker, was also booted out of the race for a playoffs berth. “Of course, we’re disappointed. Any team which has been eliminated early and couldn’t make the playoffs for two straight conferences would be disappointed,” Garcia told The Manila Times. The Elasto Painters had won three of their last four games, but that winning run wasn’t enough to carry the team to the next round. What hurt the Elasto Painters the most was the six-game losing binge they suffered right after winning the opening game of the season against new team Converge. The squad had just released Javee Mocon right after the Elasto Painters’ first game of the season in exchange for Phoenix forward Nick Demusis and the Fuel Masters’ first round pick for the 48th season and their second round pick for 49th season. Rain or Shine also started the season minus two-time Most Valuable Player James Yap, who had taken a leave of absence since the Governors’ Cup. Yap is expected to make a return in the Commissioner’s Cup, but Rain or Shine wants his commitment with the squad before he gets included in the roster. Prior to the start of the season, he went to Italy to train under football coach Alfredo Vergori to fast track his conditioning. The newlyelected councilor of San Juan has vowed to return, but only when he is 100 percent healthy. “I’ve been inactive for more than nine months. I won’t return when I’m not in tip-top condition,” added Yap. The inclusion of an in-shape Yap and an ideal import who could play along well with Rain or Shine could help resurrect the Elasto Painters in the Commissioner’s Cup. Imports with a 6-foot-10 height limit will be the main attractions in the Commissioner’s Cup aside from guest team Bay Area Dragons from Hong Kong. For Garcia, they already have six to eight import names on their list and they expect to prune down their choices once they resume practice. The Elasto Painters begin their workout on Monday. “These imports are imports who are still waiting for a league to play for, so they’re available,” said Garcia. “Some of these imports are scorers, others are known for defensive prowess, but it’s really all up for coach Chris Gavina his preferred import is.” The Elasto Painters have a young core in forward Santi Santillan, guards Andrei Caracut and Anton Asistio, Gian Mamuyac, Shawn Ildefonso and Jhonard Clarito, Demusis and Mike Nieto. They also have top gun Rey Nambatac, old reliable players in Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood and Yap, once he rejoins the team, bruising big men Jewel Ponferada and Norbert Torres, Mark Borboran, Bradwyn Guinto and Vince Tolentino. This team has a bright future and if management will be patient enough, the Elasto Painters will be able to develop a young, fighting unit that has the potential to match the Rain or Shine of old, a squad that has won two titles under head coach Yeng Guiao and known as a consistent playoff performer. For now, the Elasto Painters should look at an import who could be a right fit for these local players.