ANTIPOLO CITY – The lack of a big man took its toll on Rain or Shine’s campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup, which came to an abrupt end on Sunday following its 98-91 loss to reigning champion San Miguel.
Coach Caloy Garcia believed the sudden decline of the Elasto Painters that saw them lose five of their last six games started when center Raymund Almazan came down with a knee injury.
Until Almazan’s exit, the team occupied the No. 2 spot in the standings and appeared poised to clinching one of two twice-to-beat incentives in the playoffs.
The unfortunate incident happened.
“Kasi lumabas nung nawala si Raymund, nagkulang kami ng malaki,” said Garcia outside the Rain or Shine dugout at the Ynares Sports Center here.
“Despite Beau (Belga) and Jewel (Ponferada) playing extra minutes, they’re not capable of playing 40 minutes na dire-diretsong takbuhan.”
Against the Beermen, the Elasto Painters were clobbered off the boards, 57-44.
Garcia admitted the team needs to reinforce its frontcourt, but would not say if Rain or Shine would be pulling the trigger on another possible trade.
“Siguro kakausapin ako ng management. Maybe they would want to talk about the lineup,” said the soft-spoken mentor.”
But for the moment, with the import-flavored Commissioner’s Cup up next for the Elasto Painters, Garcia said he’d rather tap an import who can fill the void in the middle for the team.
“At least yun, may import conference, we need one who can probably help us inside,” he said. “Yung kulang namin, siguro sa import na lang namin kukunin.”
Garcia said he already had a prospect in mind, an import who previously played for Rain or Shine, who he’d rather not identify at the moment.
“Hindi ko na babanggitin muna kung sino, but we’re watching his videos and mukhang mas magaling siya ngayon,” said the Rain or Shine coach.