RAIN or Shine already owns one of the deepest and youngest teams in the PBA at the moment - yet it is bound to become even better through next season's rookie draft.
Thanks to a deal with Meralco in August 2012, the Elasto Painters may end up with another lottery pick in the coming rookie draft to shore up a team that already counts on the likes of Gilas Pilipinas mainstays Jeff Chan, Paul Lee and Beau Belga, as well as Chris Tiu and Raymond Almazan.
As it is, Rain or Shine, now one of the most competitive teams in the pro league, have found a goldmine in trades with Meralco, including a three-way trade also involving Air21 that saw the team gain first-round picks in 2011 and 2013 which the Bolts got from the Express.
That deal saw the Painters give up Sol Mercado and Paolo Bugia, who ended up at Meralco. In return, Rain or Shine got Beau Belga, Ronjay Buenafe, Ronnie Matias and the two first-round picks. Air21 got Reed Juntilla, Jay-R Reyes and a second-round pick of Meralco.
Rain or Shine used those two first-round picks to grab Lee, who ended up as the Rookie of the Year in 2011, and Almazan, the No. 3 pick overall in this season's draft.
“Lumalabas kasi dun laging pandagdag sa trade 'yung (mga draft) picks, nagkataon magaganda ang pool,” said Rain or Shine co-owner Raymund Yu.
Now the Elasto Painters stand to reap the benefits again from the straight swap in 2012 that saw them deal Buenafe for Meralco's 2014 first-round pick, which could turn out to be very valuable considering the season the Bolts have had so far.
At the moment, Meralco's pick is at No. 2 behind only GlobalPort, low enough to put the Elasto Painters in the lottery with great odds to win the top pick overall in the draft set on August 24 at Robinsons Place in Ermita, Manila.
And this early, Rain or Shine has made it clear that it has no plan to trade away the draft right as it looks forward to dipping its hands into a draft pool which the team hopes would include ABL star Stanley Pringle, former UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks, Chris Banchero, and Matt Ganuelas, among others.
“Jackpot talaga kami sa mga picks. At wala kaming balak i-trade 'yun,” Rain or Shine team manager Boy Lapid said. “Kukunin naming syempre kung sino ang maganda na aabutin. Si coach Yeng (Guiao) naman ang may desisyon ng lahat dyan, alam niya ang gagawin.
“Kaya sana pumasok yung Parks at Pringle. Pero ang maganda dyan may mga Gilas cadets pa.”
Sadly for Meralco, none of the players the team acquired from those trades are still with the team - Mercado is now with San Miguel Beer, Reyes with Ginebra, and Buenafe with GlobalPort.
Meanwhile, here is a quick look at the order of the 2014 PBA draft based on the teams' performances in the first two conferences of the year. The order is bound to change after the Governors Cup.
2. Rain Or Shine (from Meralco)
3. Air 21
4. Barako Bull
7. San Mig (from Barako from San Miguel)
8. Barako Bull (From Talk N Text)
9. Rain Or Shine
10. Barako (from San Mig)
11. Expansion team (based of lottery)
12. Expansion team (based of lottery)
13. Expansion team (based of lottery)
SECOND ROUND: (Not yet in exact order)
2. Barako (from Ginebra)
3. Rain Or Shine (from GlobalPort)
4. Barako Bull
5. Alaska (From Air 21)
6. Petron (from Barako from San Mig)
7. Alaska (from Meralco from San Miguel)
8. Alaska (from Meralco)
9. Talk N Text
10. Rain Or Shine