RAIN or Shine is still quite a distance from the ultimate goal, but Beau Belga feels a sense of fulfillment as the Elastopainters head to the semifinals of this year’s Commissioner’s Cup.
One of the few remnants of the Rain or Shine squad that last reached the semifinals two years ago, Belga relishes his return to the last four, and is hoping to be able to make it all the way to the top.
In 2016, the Elastopainters won the Commissioner’s Cup finals against Alaska with Paul Lee named Finals MVP.
The Elastopainters have since made drastic changes with Lee, Jeff Chan, JR Quinahan, and even head coach Yeng Guiao moving to different teams.
“Sobrang laki nung struggle namin,” said Belga. “Unang-una kasi ang dami nang nag-iba. Sila Paul, sila Jeff, sila JR wala na, maraming bago.”
“But ‘yun ‘yung sinasabi sa amin ni coach Caloy (Garcia) na in time, darating din tayo sa kumbaga parang peak ng team natin. Last conference, short, but marami naman kaming natutunan.”
Rain or Shine was impressive as the Elastopainters returned to the semifinals, after finishing the eliminations in first place with a 9-2 record to gain a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. Rain or Shine lost to GlobalPort in the first game of the quarterfinal series, the Elastopainters recovered to beat Batang Pier in the rubber match, 103-97.
Belga said the import Reggie Johnson is a great fit and a big boost to the Elastopainters
“Nakakuha kami ng import na magbebebenefit kaming lahat. So it’s a good pick para sa import like si Reggie. Talagang all-out lagi every game.
The burly Rain or Shine bigman also said playing a do-or-die situation against GlobalPort is also beneficial for the team.
“Coming off a loss last game na parang pakiramdam namin ‘yung momentum nasa Global. Pero sinabi ko sa kanila na kalokohan ‘yun, ‘yung kumpiyansa na mapupunta sa Global. Sabi ko, it's anybody's ballgame, do-or-die. It's a good thing na lahat ng laro namin na nag-ano kami sa overtime na pressure game, pinanalo namin. Talagang ano din, nasabi ko na pagdating sa pressure game, may ibubuga kami,” said Belga.
The Elastopainters begin the best-of-five series on Sunday against Barangay Ginebra.
“Sobrang motivated ako kasi ilang beses namin silang nakalaban sa quarters. Last time, dalawang beses kami tinalo sa best-of-three, i-dagdag mo pa sa elimination na kung nanalo kami, hindi namin sila makakatapat.
“Eager lang ako bumawi plus ‘yung eagerness na maka-abot ulit sa finals kasi last finals appearance was nung nag-champion, which is nung 2016 so two years ulit. sana makabalik ulit. And it's anybody's ballgame pagdating ng semis,” said Belga.