(Second of a 10-part series serving as our primer for the coming PBA season)
Rain or Shine
2012-2013 PBA record: 31-26
Head coach: Joseller 'Yeng' Guiao
New additions: Raymond Almazan, Jeric Teng, Alex Nuyles (rookies)
Holdovers: JR Quinahan, Beau Belga, Jeff Chan, Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, Jireh Ibanes, Ryan Arana, Jervy Cruz, Larry Rodriguez, Ronnie Matias, Tyrone Tang, Chris Tiu,
Reserve: Jonathan Uyloan
Strengths: Rain or Shine made minimal movements during the offseason, but the acquisitions the team pulled off will certainly make it better this season.
The arrival of 6-foot-7 rookie slotman Raymond Almazan bolsters the Elastopainters' undersized frontline and, as Beau Belga correctly pointed out, gives the team the off-the-ball defender it has not had for a long time.
On the other hand, coach Yeng Guiao said rookies Alex Nuyles and Jeric Teng - both noted scorers in college - deepen an already formidable backcourt that already has Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Ryan Arana, Tyrone Tang and Chris Tiu.
The Painters' lineup is formidable enough. Now if they can show the same intensity and hunger that was in full display before the franchise won its first-ever league title in the Governors Cup two seasons ago, expect Rain or Shine to be in strong contention for every championship this season.
Weakness: Guiao correctly tempered expectations for Rain or Shine by pointing out that Almazan is not a 'wow' signing like Greg Slaughter was for Ginebra this season and June Mar Fajardo for Petron the year before. Also, the reed-thin Letran star is not expected to be as dominant as Fajardo was for Petron in his rookie year last season.
Aside from that, Almazan is not a post threat like Fajardo or Slaughter, meaning Rain or Shine is still lacking in a strong presence in the middle that could attract the attention of the defense to free up the team's armada of shooters - that is, unless Belga suddenly decides to throw his weight around inside instead of shooting three-pointers with JR Quinahan.
And before Rain or Shine fans get too excited, better be warned that the team is guard-heavy and has a lot of people playing the same positions - and few to man other roles.
Season outlook: If there is one coach in the league who can put together an uneven team and make it work, it should be Guiao. The multi-titled coach has one of the most unpredictable rotation patterns in the league but somehow always succeeds in getting wins out of the seeming chaos.
That the team mostly kept its core intact makes the Painters a legitimate contender in the Philippine Cup. Aside from that, Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan are expected to be fresher this season after a busy 2013 season shuffling between Gilas and their PBA commitments.
But most of all, remember that Guiao never fails to bring the best out of players - enough reason to heighten expectations for Rain or Shine this season.