New challenge for Rain or Shine

May 16, 2024 Ed Andaya 322 views

THE last time Rain or Shine reached the semifinals in the PBA, Asia’s first play-for-pay league, was 2019.

James Yap was still the team’s biggest star following a blockbuster trade with Paul Lee of Magnolia, and Javee Mocon was still a prized rookie playing out of Guagua, Pampanga.

Caloy Garcia was the coach of the team, with Chris Gavina and Mike Buendia as his assistants.

The Asian Coatings Philippines-owned Rain or Shine made it to the semis of the 2019 season twice — against Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the Philippine Cup and San Miiguel Beer in the Commissioner’s Cup.

The Elasto Painters lost to the Hotshots in seven games in the Philippine Cup and to the Beermen in four games.

The team went on a long and lonely drought since 2019.

Fast forward to the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

Now under multi-titled coach Yeng Guiao, the Elasto Painters are back in the semis following back-to-back victories over the TNT Tropang Giga, 121-113 , at the Rizal Coliseum last May 12 and 110-109, at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium last May 15.

The twin victories came after the Tropang Giga manhandled the E-Painters, 116-99, in the opener of their best-of-three quarterfinal showdown.

Interestingly, the win enabled Ran or Shine to arrange a best-of-seven semifinal duel against San Miguel Beer, the last team to beat them in the semis.

So how will Rain or Shine perform against San Miguel, which played like the San Miguel of old in a methodical 110-91 win over No. 8 seed Terrafirma?

“Championship na para sa amin ito,” Guiao told sportswriters after beating the Tropang Giga that set them up for a best-of-seven semis series with the top-seeded Beermen.

“The best team in the conference ang kalaban namin, kaya i don”t think there’s any pressure on our players.We will just play hard as we can. Yun lang ang gagawin namin,” said Guiao, who is making his first semifinal appearance after five seasons.

“Etong San Miguel, tatlo yata ang pang starting five nito, kaya wala kaming panapat. Pero syempre, susubukan namin lumaban,” added Guiao, who is making his

Of course, Guiao is well aware of Rain or Shine’s 97-109 setback to San Miguel in their lone elimination round meting at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last March 15.

With five players scoring in double figures, the Beermen controlled the tempo of the game and led by as many as 20 points enroute to a 12-point winning margin.

But Guiao, a seven-time PBA champion with RFM Swift, Red Bull, and Rain or Shine from 1992 to 2016, and two-time “Coach of the Year” in 2001 and 2012, is expected to make the most in this David versus Goliath semifinal battle.

San Miguel, led by seven-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez and Terrence Romeo, is still widely expected to win the battle in their best-of-seven semifinal series starting Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

To many, the Beermen are toobstrong, too classy in this Philippine Cup.

Under San Miguel coach Jorge Gallent, the Beermen have won their first 10 matches with surprising ease before losing to Meralco, 92-95, in a no-bearing game last May 4 and against Terrafirma , 95-106, in their No. 1 versus No. 8 quarterfinal playoff last May 12.

But Rain or Shine — and Guiao — has already achieved what team management has always preach: play good, old basketball the Rain or Shine way and bring the fans back to the games.

NOTES — Congratulations to my good friend Violeta Caoille-Alcantara, who will celebrate her 60th birthday with family and friends at the Sequioa Hotel along Timog Ave., Quezon City on Saturday, May 18. Among the special guests are Violy’s Batch 81 high school friends at the E. Rodriguez Jr. High School. Co-hosting the once-in-a-lifetime event is Violy’s hubby, Cid.

For comments and suggestions, email to [email protected]