MANILA - A big win over the Meralco Bolts was ultimately not enough to send the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to the quarterfinals of the 2019 PBA Governors' Cup.
The Elasto Painters came away with an 83-81 triumph over the Bolts on Sunday evening, momentarily keeping them alive in the playoff race. Just a few hours later, however, NorthPort dashed their dreams thanks to their 98-96 victory over the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings.
ROS head coach Caloy Garcia knew all along that their fate was not in their hands.
"We just have to hope now for the next game," he said after their win. "We just have to hope."
Those prayers went unanswered as the Gin Kings fell short, with a potential game-winning triple by Jeff Chan missing its mark at the buzzer.
It was a tough exit for Rain or Shine, especially as the team finally seemed to find its footing with import Rich Ross. Their fourth reinforcement of the conference went 2-1 in their last three games, with wins over playoff-bound teams San Miguel and Meralco.
He averaged 20.67 points and 10.67 rebounds during his stint, and Garcia believed that in him, they finally found the import that they needed.
"Having Rich with the team changed a lot of things. Sayang, sana maaga siya dumating," he said. "You can see he's a winner, he wants to win."
Before Ross, the Elasto Painters had tried Joel Wright, Kayel Locke, and Kwame Alexander. The three combined for a 2-6 record.
"When you get imports, it's always a gamble," noted Garcia. "We never got imports who are NBA-caliber. But we tried to look for imports who can really fit with the system and at the same time, give our locals the opportunity to shine."
"Rich gave us that," he said.
With their season over, Garcia can look forward to next year -- where he hopes to Ross early on and assimilate him with the team.
"Hopefully… next year, he's gonna be available and we can start it from scratch," said Garcia. "Kasi, even in practice, he's always serious, he works hard, he wants to prove something, and it shows."
"I think it's just getting the right fit, and we just got the right fit at the wrong time," he added.
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