Ever since Rain or Shine lost head coach Yeng Guiao prior to the start of the 43rd season of the PBA, the Elasto Painters have figured in a number of major trades to find the right mix.
From swapping Paul Lee for James Yap last October, to trading away Jeff Chan and Mike Tolomia on the same day last Monday, the franchise proved that they are willing to part ways with its former core to reboot its structure.
But with their current roster, they have also lost a lot of their firepower, admitted Chris Tiu, the fourth longest-tenured Elasto Painter in the line-up.
“Well nawalan kami ng mga offensive weapons. Obviously Jeff is one of our best shooters and scorers, and si Mike Tolomia also,” said Tiu, who was drafted seventh overall in the 2012 Draft by Rain or Shine.
Still, they needed to move forward. And in their first game without Jeff Chan, the Elasto Painters needed to overcome a gallant stand by the cellar-dwelling KIA Picanto to break out of their two-game slump, 94-86.
“I guess guys have to step up and today I just felt I had to be a little bit more aggressively offensively, and I’m just glad to have helped the team,” admitted Tiu, who finished with 13 points, five rebounds, and eight assists in a conference-high 30 minutes of action.
And he needed to do so, as Gabe Norwood, the second longest-tenured Rain or Shine player, was in Lebanon for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, while Beau Belga, the third longest-tenured Elasto Painter, was ejected with 18 minutes still left in the game.
With a lot of new faces in the team dropping in just last week — including a new import in J’Nathan Bullock — the 5-foot-11 combo guard emphasized that they need to adjust to each other quickly to have a chance to crack the playoffs.
“Well we have to really make the adjustments, we have to get familiar with each other ASAP,” the five-year pro said.
“Luckily we had a week to prepare, we had a new import who came in, so we had a few days to get familiar with each other, but this is a good break-in game for us, and we hope we can get better.”