The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters booked their first PBA finals appearance in franchise history last Wednesday. It’s been a long six years for the proud franchise of Raymond Yu and Terry Que, but they say it’s worth the wait.
But while Rain or Shine may only be making its mark in the PBA now, the team has a long, proud championship tradition in the Philippine Basketball League. The team won six titles in 12 finals appearances before moving up to the PBA.
To mark the occasion, this edition of the list takes a look back at the best players of Welcoat’s PBL days. As always, before we get to the actual list, some honorable mentions:
“Estrong” was the first marquee player in the Welcoat fold, suiting up for the original squad shortly after his stint with the UST Growling Tigers dynasty in the mid-1990s.
Jojo “The Man” Manalo often played third fiddle to Yancy De Ocampo and Renren Ritualo during the Welcoat dynasty years. A talented, streaky scorer, Manalo often played either hero or goat during Welcoat’s big games.
Laure had a short stint with Welcoat in 2002-03, shortly after the MBA folded up. He played second fiddle on a team led by Rommel Adducul that ended up winning the Challenge Cup title that season.
James Yap was already a legitimate college star when he joined Welcoat. He helped the squad to the finals of the 2003-04 Platinum Cup, where the team fell in a classic best-of-five series to Fash Liquid Detergent, led by Peter June Simon, who is ironically now Yap’s bosom buddy at B-MEG.
Tubid would later make his name as a key cog for championship teams at Ginebra, but he got plenty of practice during his PBL stint with Welcoat. He was part of the Challenge Cup title team along with Laure and Adducul, taking on the role of the backcourt irritant and energy guy — a role he would play to perfection in the PBA.
Reyes was Welcoat’s last star player in the PBL, which was why he was among the three team members picked to be part of the squad’s original PBA lineup. In the PBA, he ended up showing flashes of brilliance before being traded by Rain or Shine last season.
Few people remember, but before the end of his career, the Skywalker had a stint with Welcoat in the PBL in 1998 after leaving the San Miguel Beermen. By then, the long socks were gone, and so were the rim-rattling dunks, but it was still pretty awesome to see the original Dragon take kids a decade younger than him to school.
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