For 13 straight seasons, Gabe Norwood was accustomed seeing the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters advancing to the playoffs.
Not this season, though, as the Elasto Painters saw their remarkable streak coming to an end after failing to advance past the elimination round after picking up only four wins in 11 games.
It was also the second straight conference Rain or Shine got eliminated early at the end of the first round as in the Governors’ Cup last season, they also got the boot with balik-import Henry Walker reinforcing the squad.
Although the second straight elimination was disappointing as well as watching the streak coming to an end, what Rain or Shine was able to achieve was somehow impressive, according to Norwood.
“Naturally it isn’t a great feeling, but it’s a pretty impressive streak to see end. The situation still has me upbeat, seeing the youth and potential of our squad,” wrote Norwood in a text message to ABS-CBN News.
A seven-time All-Defensive Team member, former Defensive Player of the Year, 10-time PBA All-Star and two-time champion, Norwood doesn’t see the disappointment discouraging the team in pursuit of trying to become the best they can be.
The Elasto Painters had gone on some retooling the past seasons, picking up players like Leonard Santillan, Andrei Caracut, Anton Asistio, Gian Mamuyac, Shawn Ildefonso and Jhonard Clarito, all of them selected by the squad via the past two stagings of the Rookie Draft.
Mike Nieto, who was released by Gilas Pilipinas to the Elasto Painters late last season, was also a big addition for the squad which is becoming younger and more aggressive.
But the absence of two-time Most Valuable Player James Yap, who took a leave of absence starting in the Governors Cup last season until now to pursue his political career, and the decision to trade Javee Mocon, had created a big vacuum in scoring for Rain or Shine.
Taking over the spot of Mocon is Nick Demusis, who was acquired in the trade in exchange for Phoenix’s first round pick next year as well as the Fuel Masters’ second round choice.
The team had been able to keep the core of its front court, though, with Beau Belga holding his spot as the Elasto Painters’ best big man and sharing the minutes with Jewel Ponferada and Norbert Torres.
Rey Nambatac had taken the role as top gun, but the heavy load had sometimes becoming a burden for him.
Norwood, who has played his entire career with Rain or Shine, has remained patient.
“Our goal as a team doesn’t change with the outcome of last conference. We are focused on building towards a championship,” added Norwood.
“We have a strong young group that is coming together and learning as we go. We finished the conference with some solid team wins that we look to build on moving forward.”
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