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What Now for Rain or Shine?



This is somewhat starting to become quite a routine. Rain or Shine dominates during the elimination round, earning a top-4 position and with it an early twice-to-beat advantage during the quarterfinals. Come the semifinals, depending on matchups and injuries, they have a strong chance to make the Finals.

And that’s where the cliché comes out:

Always a bridesmaid but never the bride.

Rain or Shine has made SEVEN straight semifinals appearances. In fact, after their breakthrough championship in the 2012 Governor’s Cup, they’ve lost four straight times in the Finals. That’s got to hurt, especially for superstar Paul Lee, who got injured in the one Finals they actually won.


In a way, this Rain or Shine team reminds me of the mid-2000 Detroit Pistons, who made six straight Eastern Conference Finals. That team was led by a strong back court of Billups and Hamilton (Lee & Chan), had solid defenders at the wing (Tayshaun Prince for the Pistons; Norwood / Ibanes for ROS) and the Wallace “brothers” (Extra Rice, Inc.).

Despite the extended run of success, the team only had one championship to show for their efforts, losing to solid teams like the Spurs and Celtics.

This brings up the question of whether this is as good as it gets for the former Welcoat franchise. Teams are always going all out for championships – after all, as Sir Fred Uytengsu of Alaska would say, it’s all about the RINGS baby (okay, he probably wouldn’t say that).

Should the Elasto Painters break up their core? Or are they just a few pieces away from breaking through and establishing a dynasty?

Here are some big decisions that management will have to think long and hard about during the off-season as it sets the direction for the franchise for next season.

To Gilas or not to Gilas?

Raymond Almazan tries to drive by Gabby Espinas

Raymond Almazan tries to drive by Gabby Espinas

This sounds super selfish and admittedly controversial, but it’s something to consider. Over the past two seasons, the Painters have lent guys like Chan, Norwood, Lee and Belga to the National Team. Yes, Gilas has performed well, even winning a game at the World Championships, but the price of playing nonstop basketball for two straight years is evident across the league.

Chan, Lee and Belga have all had to deal with nagging injuries here and there. Couple this with incredibly bad luck with the rest of the roster – Arana, Tang, Tiu, both Cruz’ have also spent their fair share of time in the clinic – Rain or Shine’s roster isn’t as deep as it would appear. Now that Gilas is apparently eyeing Raymond Almazan as well, there could be as many as five ROS players joining the pool come this August.

Will this give them enough time to rest their banged up bodies for the next long and grueling PBA season? Probably not.

On the flip side, being part of such a prominent program can also do wonders for their development. Just take a look at the Lethal Weapon. After being exposed to a higher level of competition, Lee’s game (and confidence) has skyrocketed (cue rocket emoji). Imagine if we see similar development for Almazan. The Painters would then have a reliable inside force taller than 6’4 that they could rely on.

Who should they draft?


After the whole mystery with Lee’s “free” agency (I use the term “free” very lightly – there’s no such thing as true free agency in the PBA, but that’s a topic for another time) last season, the Painters drafted Kevin Alas, only to deal him for a future pick in this year’s draft.

Now that the draft order is complete, we see that the Painters’ are drafting at the #3 slot, in a draft that has several players who can be key contributors right away.

Assuming that Ray Parks Jr. makes an NBA lineup (good luck!), the top two picks should be Mo Tautuaa and Troy Rosario [READ: Potential 2015 Draftees from the UAAP]. Now where does that leave ROS?

Should they pick former DLSU Archer Norbert Torres? After all, he does fit the bill of a Rain or Shine big. He’s 6’6”, a good rebounder and has a decent touch from the outside.

Or should they go with Gabe Norwood 2.0, Chris Newsome? Their games are somewhat similar and Gabe could be a great mentor for Chris. Add in the fact that many coaches have raved about Newsome’s team-first attitude, he could fit in nicely with the rest of ROS roster.

Another guy they could consider is Scottie Thompson, the do-it-all wing at Perpetual Help and last year’s NCAA MVP. Like Newsome, he would add some more playmaking, defense and athleticism. With small-ball becoming the new trend in basketball, ROS could just go ultra small and play one big and four wing players to spread the floor. I wouldn’t put it past Coach Yeng.

Whoever ROS decides to pick, they really can’t go wrong.

Change Yeng Guiao?

Yeng Guiao vs SMB GCG3 PBA Images

Just kidding. This ain’t happening. Wanted to make sure you were paying attention. Guiao’s a great coach and knows how to get the best out of his players. He’s here to stay.

Keep Pushing Forward

Arwind Santos attempting a steal on Gabe Norwood

Arwind Santos attempting a steal on Gabe Norwood

If you ask me, Rain or Shine should just stay the course. Seven straight semifinals appearances, despite not having a championship to show for it, is nothing to scoff at. I guarantee that most of the teams in the league would rather be in their position rather than where they are now.

They are good at drafting and developing players. They have a good coaching staff and a good core of players who have gone through wars together. If anything, they are tough. They don’t quit and that’s what you want from a champion team.

Eventually, Rain or Shine will break through, win that second championship and paint the town red.

  • WAGkangTANGA

    IMHO, keep the core. Just give lee, chan and norwood atleast 32-35mins playing time…

  • Jezz Reyez

    Problem is who can match June Mar?

  • playamoth

    Yeng develops a team with a deep bench but uses a few during crunch time. Some of their loses in the finals can be attributed to this. Even if somebody is playing well, he is taken out at crunch time as Coach would rather have his trusted crew even if they aren’t playing well or the match-up gets screwed.


Calvin Abueva rejuvenated with return of physical play: ‘Masarap maglaro’



Photo by PBA Images

For Calvin Abueva, it feels great to play in the PBA nowadays.

The Beast, who has always been known as one of the league’s most physical players since entering in 2012, was all praises for the way the officiating has changed this 43rd season — by just letting all the players play.

“Mas gumanda yung tawagan ngayon, naging physical nga. Naging exciting para sa mga tao, mas marami na nanonood ngayon eh,” said Abueva moments after their 97-83 victory over the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Sunday night.

As has been said many times, physicality had become something controlled over the last two years. Abueva knows it too well, having been a casualty, as he has paid a bevy of penalties during that time.

And now that it is a thing of the past, the 6-foot-2 bruiser feels much better, knowing that he can display his brand of basketball once more.

“Masarap maglaro, talagang pisikalan,” said the 29-year-old forward from Angeles, Pampanga. “Siyempre makikita naman natin kung sinasadya o hindi, basta katawan lang.

“Pisikal. Yun yung magandang laro di ba?”

Aside from the comeback of physicality, what makes Abueva beam even more is the way the Aces have been playing in the 2018 Philippine Cup. After a 0-2 start in the tourney, they have now booked their third straight win.

“Nung 2017 parang nilubog na namin yung losing streak namin doon. Ito 2018 na at panibagong destination na naman yung ina-ano namin,” said Abueva, who had nine points, nine rebounds, and five assists against Ginebra.

“Sustain muna namin ‘to… Sana magtuloy-tuloy ‘tong winning streak namin.”

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Alaska takes advantage of Greg Slaughter’s absence



For the streaking Alaska Aces, their stunning 97-83 victory over the favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night was partly made possible by the absence of one key player: seven-foot behemoth Greg Slaughter.

The 28-year-old center, who was averaging 20.67 points and 10.3 rebounds prior to Sunday, did not play against the Aces due to a hamstring injury. How he incurred the injury has yet to be determined.

“There’s a small person named Greg Slaughter who didn’t play; I think he has an impact on the game,” quipped coach Alex Compton after the match.

“[They missed] a guy who I think is gonna win an MVP soon in Greg Slaughter.

“Sometimes dito sa liga natin, you have to take advantage when opportunities come your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt [though],” added Compton.

With Slaughter out of the way, the Aces’ big men feasted.

Vic Manuel top-billed with 18 points and five rebounds, and elder statesman Sonny Thoss turned back the clock with a 17-point, four-rebound outing.

“Malaking bonus na rin sa amin, kasi wala nga si Greg kaya nakuha namin yung panalo,” said Manuel.

“Yeah it definitely helped,” added the six-foot-seven Thoss, who shot 6-of-12 from the floor and made four of his freebies.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a big presence inside so it took one big guy off our shoulder.”

Slaughter was approached and asked by scribes regarding his injury, but he was not in the mood to comment. No one can blame him, though, since the Barangay have slipped to their second straight defeat after a 2-0 start.

“I’m always there in practice, going over our gameplans. But it’s better if you ask our PT,” he said.

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Alaska completes turnaround at Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra’s expense



Photo by PBA Images

A strong second half surge was all the Alaska Aces needed to turn back the heavily-favored Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 97-83, and book their third straight victory, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

The Aces, who have yet to lose this 2018, have now improved to 3-2. Meanwhile, the Barangay absorbed their second straight loss and have dropped to 2-2.

“I was telling the guys na parang ang dami nating iniisip, hindi natin ginagawa yung ginagawa natin noong nakaraang dalawang linggo. Sabi ko relax lang tayo,” said coach Alex Compton, sharing what he told his wards that sparked the win.

Vic Manuel led the Milkmen with 18 points and five rebounds. Sonny Thoss turned back the clock as he made 17 markers on 6-of-12 shooting, while Chris Banchero supplied 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds.

The Aces were trailing by eight, 36-44 at the half, but it became a different ball game come the third chapter as they outscored the Gin Kings, 37 to 19, to erect a favorable 73-63 cushion heading into the game’s final 12 minutes.

From there, Alaska kept their foot on the gas to sustain their lead, which grew to as much as 18, 85-67, after their 6-0 spree — punctuated by Banchero’s lay-up plus a foul — with 6:14 remaining in the final frame.

Ginebra still tried to make one last push as they inched within 10, 75-85, but baskets by Thoss and Kevin Racal propelled Alaska to an 89-75 lead with 3:42 left to play — more than enough to knock out their counterparts.

“I was glad to come away with the win,” added Compton. “Sometimes, we have to take advantage of opportunities coming your way. You don’t want anybody to get hurt but when two number one picks on the other team aren’t playing… There.”

Jvee Casio had 13 markers for Alaska, while Calvin Abueva nearly had a double-double of nine points and nine boards along with five assists in 20 minutes.

Aljon Mariano had 15 points, nine rebounds, and three dimes for Ginebra, who — despite having Sol Mercado back in the fold after ankle issues — missed the services of Joe Devance and Greg Slaughter due to injuries.

Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson, and Kevin Ferrer each scored 12 for the Barangay, with Thompson adding five assists. The trio combined for 15 of Ginebra’s 43 rebounds.

Alaska will aim to extend their streak versus the Blackwater Elite on Saturday, January 27 at 4:30 PM, while Ginebra will look to end their slump against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday, January 26 at 7:00 PM. Both games are at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

Alaska 97 — Manuel 18, Thoss 17, Banchero 14, Casio 13, Abueva 9, Teng 9, Cruz 5, Enciso 3, Potts 3, Exciminiano 2, Magat 2, Racal 2, J. Pascual 0.

Ginebra 83 — Mariano 15, J. Aguilar 12, Ferrer 12, Thompson 12, Caguioa 8, Cruz 8, R. Aguilar 5, Tenorio 5, Mercado 2, Taha 2, Wilson 2, Jamito 0.

Quarterscores: 26-23, 36-44, 73-63, 97-83.

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Frustrated Jared Dillinger admits ‘he’s getting sick’ of Meralco’s bad PH Cup runs



It’s no secret that the Meralco Bolts have struggled in the Philippine Cup for the last three years. During the last two seasons, the eight-year-old franchise’s win-loss tally is four wins and 18 losses.

And in the 2018 edition, the narrative has been the same, with little to no hope of it turning the other way around.

The Bolts bowed to the TNT Katropa, 99-81, Sunday night — their third straight defeat after winning over Blackwater Elite in their opener last December. If things continue as they are, it looks like another poor all-Filipino tilt run is looming.

“We’re 1-3 and there’s nothing to be happy about,” said Jared Dillinger, who had 14 points and five caroms in the match at Ynares Center in Antipolo. “It’s a long season though… We [shouldn’t] panic but it’s not fun right now.

“The Philippine Cup has been our Achilles heel and every damn Philippine Cup we get our ass kicked. I’m getting sick of it.”

In this game, Meralco missed the services of top forwards Ranidel De Ocampo and Cliff Hodge due to injuries. But for Dillinger, those issues shouldn’t be excuses.

“When you get two guys like Ranidel and Cliff out, as a team, that’s the opportunity for the guys below them to step up,” asserted Dillinger, who has been with the franchise since 2013.

“It doesn’t have to mean scoring, getting the assists or rebound, it’s just making the right play, being smart.”

Asked what went wrong in this particular loss versus their sister team, where they shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and had committed 17 turnovers, the 10-year veteran lamented the poor effort that the Bolts put up.

“TNT didn’t do anything much, given that they played well. But they didn’t have any secret schemes against us. They just passed the ball around, and they got open shots,” added the 10-year pro, as TNT made 23 assists and shot 18 triples.

“Our effort wasn’t there. We got to put up the intensity cause it sucks right now.”

Meralco have a chance to end their slump against the Kia Picanto this Wednesday. Dillinger sees it as a do-or-die affair, warning that it will be a grind-out affair knowing that the Picanto is coming off a skid-ending win over Rain or Shine.

Do-or-die ’cause that’s gonna be a playoff game. Thank God they beat Rain or Shine ’cause you don’t want to be that one team that gives the win to a 0-16 [team]. You don’t want to play teams like that,” stressed the all-around forward.

“Nothing to take away from Kia though. It’s gonna be tough.”

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