#PBA2015 Roster Review: The Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters

With the 2014-2015 PBA season’s official rosters released, I found it only logical to look at each line-up and see where each team stands. In this series of posts, I’ll be breaking down each team’s bigs, wings, and floor generals while also looking at what kind of damage they’ll do this season.
Let’s look at roster of the Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters.

Can the Painters break through and annex another PBA title?

Overall 2013-2014 Record: 37 wins and 24 losses.

Best Finish: Finals in the 2013-2014 Philippine Cup and 2014 Governors’ Cup.

BIGS: Jervy Cruz, Beau Belga, JR Quiñahan, Raymond Almazan
- All of a sudden, without Larry Rodriguez, the Rain or Shine frontline is just one injury away from signing someone like Big Mac Andaya in desperation. It’s a welcome sight then that young second-year slotman Raymond Almazan has seemingly blossomed into his role as the team’s main man in the middle. Perhaps seeing how contemporaries Greg Slaughter, June Mar Fajardo, and Ian Sangalang have bloomed in the pros, the former Letran Knight is eager to prove his worth as well. He’s currently norming about 15 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 60% from the field. He might not win MVP just yet, but, even this early, he looks like a possible Most Improved Player candidate.

Raymond Almazan is expected to be ROS's future cornerstone.
(image by Paul Mata/Sports 5)

- It also helps that Almazan is surrounded by three veteran bigs with complementary skill-sets. Jervy Cruz is the undersized PF who has a million moves in the post, while both Beau Belga and JR Quiñahan have the range to spread the defense. Yes, coach Yeng Guiao is courting disaster with just four bona fide big guys, but every single one of these cagers is top-shelf or near there, so ROS fans really cannot complain that much.

WINGS: Jonathan Uyloan, Gabe Norwood, Jireh Ibañes, Jeric Teng, Jeff Chan, Ryan Araña, Jericho Cruz
- The depth of this roster is apparent in its wingmen, too. The Painters have two guys who are members of Gilas Pilipinas surrounded by scrappy players who play their roles as well as anyone in the league. The first two guys, of course, are Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan. Norwood has the skill-set to, individually, be one of the most dominant forwards in the league, but he chooses to be a vital cog in ROS’s proven system instead. He’s still maybe the country’s best lockdown perimeter defender, and his midrange game is nonpareil to boot. As for Chan, well, practically every hoop nut in Asia already knows how deadly he is from downtown. He’s not exactly Allan Caidic redux, but he’s the closest we have right now.  
Gabe Norwood skies for the slam against Blackwater.
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5)

- Just like their frontline counterparts, Jonathan Uyloan, Jireh Ibañes, Jeric Teng, Ryan Araña, and rookie Jericho Cruz are all specialists who complement the whole and who can be inserted depending on in-game situations. Hardly anybody in that group can carry this team by his lonesome, but their roles are all crucial in getting those Ws.

FLOOR GENERALS: Paul Lee, TY Tang, Chris Tiu
- In Paul Lee, coach Yeng has a playmaker who might be the backbone of the next Gilas squad, while best friends TY Tang and Chris Tiu provide the kind of toughness, decision-making, and outside shooting that quality back-up need to have.

- Lee, despite the injury he recently sustained, will definitely be one of the most important pieces for ROS. His uncanny ability to draw the defense and still find a way to come up with a quality play is something that is essential for the Painters’ free-wheeling style. His ability to penetrate and, at the same time, his skill in hitting the long tom are both deadly assets.

Paul Lee should enjoy another strong season even with his early injury.
(image by Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5)

Final Word: Plateau
- For the past few seasons, this scrappy, balanced, deep, and tough Rain or Shine team has defied the conventions of what makes a successful PBA club. Coach Yeng is well-known for favoring a “no star” approach to his team, and he has reaped a lot of success in doing so. In spite of this, given the collective age of his core and the loss of Larry Rodriguez, one shouldn’t be surprised if the Painters plateau this season. They were the most successful team last season outside of the Grand Slam Champion San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, but I’m not entirely sure having almost the exact same line-up will enable them to duplicate that this season.

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