And so, after several futile seasons, numerous heartaches, and a grueling 7-game series, the Rain or Shine Elastopainters finally bagged what it sought after joining the PBA 6 years ago: a championship.
It took a lot of guts and a lot of hard work, from its starters to the deepest end of the bench.
What made it more remarkable is that they did it in front of a huge crowd of almost 21,000, a huge part of which was cheering for their rivals, the fancied B-Meg Llamados.
It's a climactic end to an exciting season that saw three different champions: Talk and Text in the All-Filipino Cup, BMEG in the Commissioner's Cup, and, of course, Rain or Shine in the Governor's Cup. It also ended all doubts that the team is still not ready for the big time by winning its first crown on its first try. Impressive.
The 2011-2012 Governor's Cup is one that will have its place in the annals of local pro basketball history, thanks to a first timer that defied the odds to bring home the proverbial bacon. Needless to say, Rain or Shine's road to the championship has been paved with different factors that made it even more significant and ultimately more memorable, not only for the players and coaches but also to local hoop fans everywhere.
The Elastopainters' 2011-12 season is nothing short of a roller-coaster ride. After reaching the semifinals in the All-Filipino Cup, the team failed to qualify in the next conference. This is why at the start of the Governor's Cup, the team didn't make it to the list of favorites, headlined by perennial powerhouses Talk and Text, Petron, and B-Meg.
Rain or Shine wasn't part of the conversation, but it didn't matter. The team rushed out of the gates and topped the elimination round. After some troubles in the semis, Rain or Shine still managed to book the first seat in the finals via a 92-82 win over B-Meg, the team they'll eventually face and narrowly beat. The rest, as they say, is history.
The "Yeng Guiao Magic"
Last year, Yeng Guiao replaced Caloy Garcia as head coach. We dare say this move affected the Elastopainters campaign immensely and would shape the team's identity. It's a perfect fit, too. For one, the current Rain or Shine team is composed of a bunch of role players and 1 or maybe 2 borderline superstars. Yeng Guiao is a coach which thrives with a team like this. We still remember the days when he coached Red Bull to the top of the league in the middle of the past decade, a similar team when you look at the lack of marquee names.
Paul "The Lee-thal Weapon" Lee
At the beginning of the season, Rain or Shine picked number two overall and went for former UE standout Paul Lee. The burly guard started his pro career with a bang and eventually became one of the team's main faces. But it's more than his double-digit averages in points. Despite having a few lackluster performances, Paul Lee still managed to play with intensity and toughness which often rubs on his teammates. He plays with cold accuracy which also makes him a clutch performer.
Despite falling in Game 2 of the finals because of a dislocated shoulder, he's always there, albeit as the chief cheerleader on the bench. Him winning the Rookie of the Year honors is well deserved, and could be just the start of a storied career.
NEXT: Extra rice inc.