E-Painters will come out better at PBA restart, vows Garcia
Rain or Shine (ROS) coach Caloy Garcia feels the long layoff in the PBA caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should work to the advantage of the Elasto Painters, whose lineup is stacked with young and talented upstarts determined to prove their worth.Eight players in the ROS roster for the Philippine Cup are under 30 years old, including four rookies in first-round picks Adrian Wong, Clint Doliguez, Prince Rivero and Vince Tolentino as the Painters build for the future with the help of veterans James Yap, Beau Belga and Gabe Norwood.
While practices remain on hold after Metro Manila was placed on modified enhanced community quarantine, Garcia can’t help but express his excitement on seeing how his squad is shaping up should the league’s milestone 45th season resume later this year.
“With the situation right now, energy levels going into practice should be an advantage [for our team],” Garcia said on “2OT” podcast on Wednesday. “Teams that have players in their prime may have a harder time getting in shape.”
ROS has not won a championship since the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup, but Garcia said the franchise is making a conscious effort in building the squad around younger players like Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon, whom the ROS coach branded as future stars of the league.
“I think they are going to be the future of the PBA,” Garcia said, referring to Nambatac and Mocon, who had shown great improvement in practice before the season was shut down.
“Their work ethic is unquestionable, and [we saw] that in practice. Everybody [was] working hard. And I liked the fact that James [was] challenging our rookies. They (rookies) still get surprised with James’ moves.”
Garcia said the move to pick up role players from championship programs in college augurs well for the future of the franchise. Wong and Tolentino were part of Ateneo’s championship teams in each of the last two years, while Doliguez was a solid contributor to the San Beda title teams in 2017 and 2018. Rivero also played for La Salle’s championship team in 2016.“One thing about getting role players is that they last longer in the league,” Garcia said. “They are easier to coach and they come from championship teams. We already have stars and we’re looking for players to fill roles. When we took Rey, it took a while for him to pick up. You see Mocon, he’s undersized and we didn’t even expect him to contribute right away but he did. Right now they are role players, but if they play their roles right, they’ll be superstars soon.”
Garcia said his team had about 10-12 tuneup games before the start of the season in March. Those games allowed him to address chemistry issues heading into the season.
“I was worried about the chemistry issues,” Garcia said.
“I gave a lot of minutes to the rookies because I wanted them to perform.”