PBA preview: Rain or Shine, Star, NLEX, Globalport stacked in middle of the pack
Rain or Shine, Star, NLEX and GlobalPort are all right there, ready to crowd the top favorites in the chase for conference titles. Photo by Jayson Willie Lansang

[Editor's note: Second of three parts]

AFTER the bottom four, let’s talk about the teams in the middle of the pack.

These clubs are postseason contenders and have the material to make the jump to elite status, that is if they can fix their respective flaws.

Still, these are dangerous teams that are clear threats to the Top Four teams in the tournament. Meralco would’ve been part of this group if not for its lack of a standout big man.

Here’s the second part of our preview/rankings for Season 42.


8. GlobalPort

Key losses: Joseph Yeo, Jay Washington, Doug Kramer, Jeric Fortuna, Dorian Peña

New additions: JR Quiñahan, Niño Canaleta, Mike Cortez, Von Pessumal, Mick Pennisi, Rey Guevarra, Jessie Saitanan

Best Five:

C – JR Quiñahan

PF – Niño Canaleta

SF – Karl Dehesa

SG – Stanley Pringle

PG – Terrence Romeo


The Batang Pier will remain heavily reliant on the explosive duo of Romeo and Pringle. How they perform will once again determine how far GlobalPort will go in the season-opening conference.

But instead of having just one stretch big man in Jay Washington, GlobalPort now has two in Quiñahan and Canaleta, who won’t be gun shy from the perimeter when Romeo and Pringle kick the ball out to them.


Having an offense that revolves around only two spitfire playmakers makes the Batang Pier an easy target. Once defenses stop even just one-half of Romeo-Pringle tandem, GlobalPort will be easier to beat. The men in neon green can’t win every game with only one of them posting huge numbers.


The Batang Pier have the potential to duplicate their feat in the last edition of the all-Filipino conference when they gatecrashed the Final Four for the first time.

If enforcers like skipper Billy Mamaril and Rico Maierhofer provide significant contribution, and Cortez can come in as the facilitator and take the point-guard duty burden from Romeo, then GlobalPort stands a chance to go deep in the playoffs.

Also, having a clear-cut head coach can ease confusion to the players.



Key losses: Jeckster Apinan, James Forrester

New additions: Yeng Guiao (coach), Bradwyn Guinto, Carlo Lastimosa, Fonzo Gotladera, Jansen Rios (2015 pick)

Best Five:

C – Asi Taulava

PF – Sean Anthony

SF – Carlo Lastimosa

SG – Garvo Lanete

PG – Jonas Villanueva


Young guns Kevin Alas, Lastimosa, and Lanete, and even star forward Anthony are expected to flourish in the Road Warriors’ new fast-paced, outside-shooting offense.


When all else fails, they can still dump the ball to the ageless Taulava, who will power his way inside for instant offense.

But their biggest strength is simply having Guiao, who can bring out the best in them.


On paper, the Road Warriors appear to have a shortage of players who will thrive in a run-and-gun style.

While his arrival gives them a legitimate offensive threat, Lastimosa has a tendency to play outside the flow, so Guiao has to have – and he will – a tight leash on his new star.


It’s interesting to see how the Road Warriors’ traditional big men, especially Taulava, will fit in with the new system. If the robust 6-foot-9 slotman adapts well, then the Road Warriors’ transition to a new regime will be smooth.

If not, it’s Guiao who may have to adjust like coach Tim Cone did when the triangle proponent veered away from his pet offense in the last Governors’ Cup. But will he?


6. Star

Key losses: James Yap, RR Garcia, Alex Mallari, Jerwin Gaco

New additions: Chito Victolero (coach), Paul Lee, Aldrech Ramos, Jio Jalalon, Chris Javier, Samboy de Leon (2015 pick)

Best Five:

C – Ian Sangalang

PF – Marc Pingris

SF – Allein Maliksi

SG – Paul Lee

PG – Mark Barroca


The Hotshots certainly had an upgrade with the addition of Lee, who’s younger and a better ball handler than Yap. The former Rain or Shine star gives his new team another option who can take over at crunch time.   

Star also flaunts its depth, boasting a second unit of Aldrech Ramos, PJ Simon, Jalalon, Justin Melton, and Rafi Reavis, a five that can start for most teams.


The departure of Yap, though, deprives the Hotshots of a pure shooter. Outside Maliksi, who knocked down triples at an amazing rate at one stretch last season, Star has few options. Sure, Lee, Barroca, Simon, Melton, and Jalalon can all make the three-ball, but they have yet to prove they can make long shots on a consistent basis.


How the Hotshots respond to Victolero right in his first conference will dictate how the season goes for the powerhouse team. If the new coach can whip his wards into a cohesive unit, then the rest of the league should look out.


5. Rain or Shine

Key losses: Yeng Guiao (coach), Paul Lee, JR Quiñahan

New additions: Jay Washington, James Yap, Mike Tolomia


Best Five:

C – Raymond Almazan

PF – Jay Washington

SF – Gabe Norwood

SG – James Yap

PG – Jericho Cruz


The Elasto Painters remain a well-oiled machine that can fire from all angles. Cruz and Ahanmisi will be shouldering more of the load and they are more than ready to embrace the added responsibility.

Almazan will continue to develop as a force on both ends, while Norwood remains a world-class defensive lynchpin who can stop the other team’s best perimeter player.

RoS also still has a deep roster that features Maverick Ahanmisi, Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, and Jewel Ponferrada coming off the bench.


The loss of Lee strips the E-Painters of a proven closer who can take matters into his own hands down the stretch. James Yap, Belga, Cruz and Ahanmisi can step up to the plate, but that remains to be seen.


One may say it’s going to be an easy transition with longtime deputy Caloy Garcia now at the helm, but it can be tricky. As long as Garcia can at least match the respect the team had for Guiao, then the E-Painters will still be a force to be reckoned with.

RoS also won all its three tune-up games in the offseason. Although that hardly gauges how they will perform in the tournament, it’s an early sign that they are meshing well together.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos