PBA Season 43 Preview: Rain or Shine eyes semis breakthrough
Head Coach: Caloy Garcia
Key Players: James Yap, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan
Key Additions: Rey Nambatac
A return to the semifinals is Rain or Shine’s immediate goal heading into the 2018 PBA season.
The Elasto Painters made the playoffs in each of the three conferences last season but they just couldn’t go past the quarterfinals.
“Our expectation [this season] is for us to be better than last year. First, we’re looking to make it to the semis and if we make it, we’ll see what happens after that,” ROS head coach Caloy Garcia told INQUIRER.net.
Rain or Shine barely made the playoffs in the 2017 Philippine Cup as the eighth seed and was immediately knocked off in the quarterfinals by San Miguel Beer, which went to to win its third consecutive all-Filipino crown.
The Painters got swept by the Star Hotshots in a best-of-three series in the Commissioner’s Cup before and were eliminated by the TNT KaTropa the following conference.
Still, it was a decent run by Rain or Shine considering what the team had to deal with following a major shakeup.
This year, the Painters added Rey Nambatac, whom they picked seventh overall in the draft.
Garcia just couldn’t pass up the chance to reunite with his former player at Letran knowing the things he could do on the court.
“He is quick to adjust because he played for me before,” said Garcia, who coached Nambatac for two years in college. “He knows what kind of coach I am and I know what kind of player he is.”
Garcia, though, will need Nambatac to mature quickly with the Painters ailing coming into the season.
Health is Garcia’s only but major concern entering the 2018 Philippine Cup, which opens on Sunday.
“The only thing that we’re worried about right now is we still have five to six players recovering from injuries,” Garcia said.
James Yap, Jericho Cruz, Jireh Ibañes and Jay Washington missed Rain or Shine’s all three games in the preseason due to injuries. Raymond Almazan sat out too.
Fortunately for the Painters, they have the depth to fill in some of the holes their injured players left with the likes of Maverick Ahanmisi and old reliables Beau Belga, Chris Tiu and Gabe Norwood to bank on.
Garcia is also counting on his young guns in Nambatac and second-year player Ed Daquioag.
“We’re depleted right now and he (Nambatac) is going to get his time at the beginning of the season,” said Garcia.
“Basically, he just has to adjust to his teammates and in facing bigger players. We also know what kind of quality we’re gonna get. He’s a scorer, he’s a good slasher.”
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