THE year 2019 was a time for change for Rain or Shine, which nonetheless remained a perennial playoff contender with semifinal appearances in two out of the three conferences this season.
Here’s a look at the year that was for Rain or Shine.
Chris Tiu officially retires
The speculations on the future of Chris Tiu finally ended last January 8 when he announced his retirement in a short message on his social media account. With the announcement, Tiu finished his nine-year PBA career that also saw him win one title in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup with the Elastopainters.
Rain or Shine falls short in Philippine Cup semis
Rain or Shine had an impressive campaign in the elimination round of the Philippine Cup, winding up with an 8-3 record to take the second seed in the playoffs. The Elastopainters also reached the semifinals where they faced Magnolia in a thrilling series.
Rain or Shine started the series with a 2-0 lead, only for Magnolia to win three straight games to take the upper hand. The Elastopainters went on to force a rubber match for a finals spot with a 91-81 win in Game Six. Their stint in the Philippine Cup, however, ended in Game Seven last April 28 when Rain or Shine blew a 17-point lead and dropped a 63-60 decision against Magnolia.
Game Seven though was not without controversy as a Rome Dela Rosa three converted when the shotclock expired at the 3:30-mark of the fourth to tie the match at 50 was clearly still in his hands as seen in the replay. The PBA later enforced a rule change that allows a video review of such plays starting at the Commissioner’s Cup.
Almazan shipped to Meralco
The Elastopainters made a key trade last May 14, sending longtime center Raymond Almazan to Meralco in exchange of a 2019 and 2021 first-round draft picks. The trade ended Almazan’s six-year tenure with Rain or Shine that had its share of ups and downs including talks of a reported strained relationship with coach Caloy Garcia.
Rain or Shine also made a deal last August 15 as it was able to obtain Ping Exciminiano in a trade with Alaska for Maverick Ahanmisi.
ROS hit with import woes in Governors’ Cup
Rain or Shine once again reached the semifinals of the Commissioner’s Cup where a team led by import Carl Montgomery, a late replacement in the elimination round for Denzel Bowles, lost to San Miguel, 3-1, in the series.
Their fortunes turned for the worse in Governors’ Cup as Rain or Shine missed the quarterfinals after placing ninth in the standings with a 4-7 win-loss slate. The conference was marked by three import changes, with Joel Wright, Kayel Locke, Kwame Alexander, and Richard Ross playing for the Elastopainters.
Rey Nambatac emergence
The year 2019 also saw Rey Nambatac getting a big role with Elastopainters. In a June 8 game against Barangay Ginebra, Nambatac scored a career-high 30 points in their 104-81 victory against the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup champion.
The former Letran cager also played a hero’s role in games, including last July 20 when he hit the game-winning shot in Rain or Shine’s dramatic 93-90 win over Blackwater in Game One of the Governors’ Cup finals.
Nambatac also became Rain or Shine’s top man in scoring in the Governors’ Cup where he averaged 13.1 points per outing for the team.