Out with the old, in with the new.
It’s a saying that especially rings true around the younger generation. Millennials and Gen Z are eagerly putting in the effort to usurp their older contemporaries because they believe it’s time for there to be a changing of the guard. A time to claim what’s theirs. Change is good. Change is inevitable. With all the chaos happening around the world, it’s only a matter of time that society takes out the old and brings in what is new.
Thanks to smart drafting, steady development, and intelligent coaching, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters have been able to smoothly transition from the Yeng Guiao-era to the Caloy Garcia-era. The result has been a team that’s epitomized this youth movement that’s slowly becoming the norm in the world today.
Two players in Rain or Shine have been leading this: Javee Mocon and Rey Nambatac. What’s made them stand out, aside from their obvious youth, has been how they’ve used their play to showcase the pillars of Rain or Shine Basketball.
Coming into the 2018 PBA Draft, Javee Mocon was tagged by many as “safe”. He’s broken out of that tag by showing he’s much more than a rotation player, but still, Mocon’s perfectly exemplified the steady play that’s helped Rain or Shine remain competitive despite the changing of the guard that’s been happening.
You can best describe him as excellently steady. He’ll never wow you with unicorn-like movement or explosive athleticism, but he gets the job done while making close to superstar-level impact. He’s leading the team in scoring with 14.2 points per game. Beyond that, his rebounding has remained as one of his strongest traits (6.6 rebounds per game), but what’s helped him make improve this year has been his improved passing and playmaking (3.0 assists per game). Add in versatility on the defensive end and his limitless motor, and you get a player that’s built for the Rain or Shine brand of basketball.
Steady play isn’t enough, however. You still need that piece that’s willing to go out of the box and take the necessary risks needed to win championships. Enter Rey Nambatac, who after making a leap last season, has fully embraced the role of finisher for the Elasto Painters. Nambatac is the Yin to Mocon’s Yang; he exemplifies the fearlessness and audacity that makes Rain or Shine such a pain to go up against.
His numbers this season haven’t stood out as elite; 10 points paired with 4.3 rebounds and five assists per game aren’t exactly eye-popping statistics. What’s stood out, however, has been his willingness to take and make the big baskets in the clutch. He’s been a natural creator ever since his Letran days and he’s taken it to another level with more calculated attacks to the basket.
He’ll never be the best pure talent on the basketball court, that’s not who Nambatac is. He makes up for his lack of athleticism to insane physical gifts with a cerebral approach on the court and an attitude that would get Sam Cassell dancing.
In theory, Nambatac and Mocon, along with Adrian Wong, Sidney Onwubere, Kris Rosales, and Prince Rivero, are part of the new that’s going to take the old out in the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters franchise. But this team’s different. Instead of throwing away the old heads just so the young guns can shine, Caloy Garcia and management have brought in the veterans to help its younger pieces shine even brighter.
Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga will forever be associated with the Elasto Painters, and this season, they’ve showcased one more pillar the franchise has stood on all these years, humility.
It feels weird to associate the shotgun slinging Big Beau with humility. However, this shows itself not against opponents, but within the Rain or Shine team circle. Belga’s a big deal in the franchise and you wouldn’t blame him if he prioritized his ego over everything else as he starts to age. Instead of being demanding, Belga’s embraced his enforcer role even more with the added youth around the roster.
That’s Belga’s way of showing his humility; by making his younger teammates know that he’s got their back no matter what happens. In the pros, there’s a tendency for egos to take control of a player’s attitude, but that hasn’t been the case for the long-time Elasto Painters. As a matter of fact, as his career has grown, he’s made it a point to use his reputation as an enforcer to protect his developing teammates even more.
Of course, if we’re talking humility, we can’t forget about Gilas legend Gabe Norwood. He has epitomized professionalism throughout his years in the PBA and he’s served as an amazing leader for this young Elasto Painters group. It’s not difficult to see Norwood’s impact off the court. He’s vocal, passionate, and emotionally intelligent. He knows how to get to the heart of any kind of person.
On the court, his impact remains immeasurable. His counting stats continue to get lower as he ages, but his intelligence shines in ways you wouldn’t expect. He’s still athletically gifted, but the rotations he makes as well as his cuts to the rim have been more impressive. His basketball IQ remains A+. He’s a winner through and through, the kind Rain or Shine has needed to stay afloat in a league full of giant conglomerates.
Even though they scored a huge win versus title favorites Ginebra in their last game, it would be too early to call the Elasto Painters title favorites. They’re getting there. Their youth continues to grow and helping them out are two legends who are eager to keep the ball rolling for this franchise.
Out with the old, in with the new? That’s not the case for Rain or Shine.
Hold on to the old, embrace the new. That’s much more fitting for an organization that’s seamlessly transitioned from one generation to the next.