RAIN or Shine co-owners Raymund Yu and Terry Que had mixed emotions the moment the Elasto Painters sealed their first-ever PBA Finals appearance by defeating B-Meg, 92-82, on Wednesday night.
But the overriding feeling for the low-key duo was relief as the Asian Coatings Philippines franchise finally reached the Finals after six years of trying.
“We felt relieved,” admitted Yu, who joined Que, his longtime business partner, and coach Yeng Guiao during the post-game interview at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We have been waiting for six years,” said Yu, who together with Que broke into the league in 2006 by buying the Shell franchise.
The all-important win also came as a fitting birthday gift for Que, whose partnership with Yu had produced six championships in a dynastic rule in the defunct Philippine Basketball League.
The Painters' victory was also a triumph for the league's so-called small teams, which have largely stayed in the background while big-budgeted teams owned by San Miguel Corp. and the PLDT group dominated in the past few seasons.
By reaching the Governors Cup finals, Rain or Shine has a chance to become just the second team outside of the SMC and PLDT families to win a league title over the last four years. The only team to have pulled off the feat was Alaska Milk in 2010.
As coach Yeng Guiao said after the dramatic win: “Maliliit na owners but we're here lumalaban, baka makapuwing, baka maka-tsamba, laban lang.”
The Elasto Painters finished the elimination as the No. 1 team with a near-immaculate 8-1 (win-loss) slate, and needed to win just two of their five games in the semis to advance in the title series.
But with mounting pressure, the team lost three of its first four games and needed to beat the Llamados in their final game of the semis to advance outright to the Finals.
Now the Elasto Painters are assured of their best finish ever in the league. Prior to the season-ending conference, the closest Rain or Shine came to reaching the Finals was in the last Philippine Cup when it lost to Powerade in the deciding Game Seven of their semifinal series.
“Maybe that’s what motivated the players,” Yu recalled.
The Rain or Shine executive admitted he didn’t want to lose the game because a playoff against either Ginebra or Talk ‘N Text would have been more difficult. The Kings defeated the Tropang Texters, 73-71, and will now meet the B-Meg Llamados for the right to face Rain or Shine.
That’s why when the Painters’ lead was cut from 23 to just six late in the fourth, Que, as always, couldn't bear to look.
“Nung dumidikit parang ayoko ko na manood eh,” he said.
Now he can proudly cast his eyes on his underdog team's glowing achievement.