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An emerging contender

But there’s a matter that needs to be resolved.

If there’s one team that can be considered as one of the biggest winners in the recent Philippine Basketball Association, it’s Rain or Shine.

The Elasto Painters took in not just one, but two impactful players who might be able to help their campaign in the coming PBA season.

They’ve selected Luis Villegas, a 6-foot-7 center/forward who boasts of an all-around game then added another versatile big man, 6-foot-8 center Keith Datu.

This early, head coach Yeng Guiao is looking at the future.

His aging front liners — led by Beau Belga and Mark Borboran — badly needs backup.

The Elasto Painters just recently also added Jewel Ponferada in the trade package that sent second round pick Henry Galinato and the veteran center/forward to TNT in exchange for the Tropang Giga’s first round pick for Season 50 and veteran forward Dave Marcelo.

Marcelo’s inclusion will not only bring added toughness, a brand of game that was very evident on a Guiao-mentored squad, but also fill in the void left by Ponferada.

The 6-foot-5 player out of San Beda played under Guiao a few years ago at NLEX and are familiar with each other.

But all eyes will be on Villegas and Datu.

Rain or Shine might miss Villegas in the early goings as he is still on his way to complete recovery after injuring his knee in last season’s University Athletic Association of the Philippines’ cage wars.

But the Elasto Painters should utilize Datu right away.

A PBA 3×3 standout, Datu is eager to learn from Guiao and the other more experienced players who will guide him every step of the way.

He was able to showcase his potential in the 3×3 competitions, and will now have an opportunity to unravel his true talent in the five-on-five play.

How he will be able to hold his own against the likes of June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer, Japeth Aguilar and Christian Standhardinger remains to be seen, but Guiao likes the upside of both his young big men.

But there’s a matter that needs to be resolved.

Will the Elasto Painters make room for the return of two-time Most Valuable Player James Yap?

Yap is raring to close out his career with a bang and whether he deserves a spot depends on his performance during the team’s daily grind.

With a good balance of young, talented players and reliable veterans, it looks like Rain or Shine is now an emerging contender.

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