In a span of nine conferences, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters have made five finals appearances. They went all the way and got the ring in the 2012 Governors’ Cup – a first for the team, and so far, the only one.
In the same period, B-Meg/San Mig Coffee/Purefoods also reached the finals five times. They won four consecutive trophies (including a grand slam), twice at the expense of ROS. The two other losses of Rain or Shine, including the most recent one, were at the hands of Talk ‘N Text.
What matters is they fought hard, they said. But after its fourth runner-up finish in two years, what’s next for the Elasto Painters?
Rain or Shine’s bridesmaid runs have had positive developments through the years – from suffering a sweep back in 2012, forcing a winner-take-all in 2014, to recently pushing it to a historical double overtime Game 7. ROS were at their healthiest coming into their last finals stint and they really could have had it all, except that TNT would have none of it.
2015 Comm Cup Eliminations
2015 Comm Cup Playoffs
What went right: Rain or Shine banked on their fast-paced offense and fluid ball movement. They assisted 60 percent of their field goals and they were able to maintain this all throughout the conference. Their wing rotation (Lee, Tiu, Uyloan, Norwood) has been pretty solid and their outside shooting was on-point as they averaged 12 made triples in the playoffs. The team’s rebounding also shot up compared to previous years. It may not be on par with teams with huge frontline, but it’s enough to compete in the Finals against the Texters who also struggled with crashing the boards.
What went wrong: The lack of legit rim protector has always been an issue for ROS. Among their local big men last conference, it’s only Raymond Almazan who consistently functioned like… a big man.
Almazan helped Wayne Chism in defending the basket and grabbing boards. He may not be getting a lot of touches but he does have decent inside scoring percentages. The Extra Rice tandem are supposed to space the floor with their range but their love affair with the three-ball has also been on the rocks lately.
Of course Ranidel de Ocampo and Jayson Castro going supernova on them was a major hindrance. Plus the mind games they played on Ivan Johnson backfired as he surprisingly managed to keep it together until the end of the series.
I’ve always said that the PBA teaches us a lesson or two about letting go. You can’t dwell on losses – in the same way that you can’t get hungover on wins – for the simple reason that:
In the UAAP and even in the NBA, you have to wait almost a full year for the new season to start. Therefore, your team has time to prepare a huge bounce back season. In the PBA, seasons pass by so quickly, you won’t even notice that a new conference is already underway. If teams need to change something to improve their chances, they need to decide and act fast.
It’s definitely not in their character, but for Rain or Shine to finally win it all, is it time for them to follow the lead of other teams and make some drastic adjustments?
Coaching change? HELL NO.
They’re not Ginebra, so this is not even a question. Ever since Coach Yeng Guiao handled the franchise five years ago, they’ve consistently been a contender, threatening the more established and experienced squads. His philosophy of giving equal opportunities to his players has been effective for them. Non-superstars are known to have flourished under his mentorship. Everyone on the roster from the core members down to the last man on the bench is an important puzzle piece that makes ROS difficult to figure out.
Trade players? Probably not.
Before the start of the season, ROS management expressed its willingness to trade any of its players in exchange for a quality big man. This included Paul Lee, who at that time, was having issues in renewing his contract. No trades materialized, and in the end, the Lethal Weapon decided to ink a two-year max deal with the team that drafted him. When ROS struggled at the start of the Philippine Cup, Coach Guiao warned his players that they will be shipped out of the squad if they don’t perform well. The Painters responded with a 28-point beating of Barako Bull in their next game.
The Elasto Painters’ core of Gilas stars Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, and captain Jireh Ibanes, plus JR Quinahan, Jonathan Uyloan, Ryan Arana, Jervy Cruz, and TY Tang have all been playing together since 2011, or nearly as long as Coach Guiao has been with the franchise. Their chemistry and familiarity with each other have always been one of Rain or Shine’s strongest points.
If you look at the their lineup, you’d wonder how these bunch of role players have come to achieve so much in the past years. Only Paul Lee can be considered a true superstar. They work well as a whole, but the problem is if you take away any of the players not named Lee and place them in another team, we’re not sure how they’re going to fare.
The most expendable they have is Jeric Teng, but his value has gone down. Had he been traded when he was still freshly drafted, ROS would have gotten a better deal. If they’re willing to give away another guard along with Teng, then they can start negotiating. Although I don’t think they’re letting any of the guys go just yet.
Go big in the draft? Yes, please.
This is their chance to fill the big man void. If HumbleBola’s mock draft 1.0 will turn out to be prophetic, Troy Rosario does sound like an awesome addition for ROS. Though if Rosario gets picked earlier, I’m not convinced of settling for the next available big in Norbert Torres. He’d probably be an Extra Rice Inc. in the making (who can’t shoot threes), and they don’t need that. They can choose to get a high-valued wing instead.
Whatever the team decides to do or not do, I believe Rain or Shine fans have nothing to worry about. As much as it sucks to always fall short in the end, five finals appearances in nine conferences for this young franchise is not bad at all.
The Elasto Painters’ time will come, probably sooner than we all expect.
Featured image courtesy of Jaime Campos, Spin PH