Over the next few weeks in the lead-up to the opening of the PBA's 45th season on March 8, ESPN5.com writers will take a look at the history of the six oldest franchises in the PBA and name the four players from each who have achieved the most with the franchise; mention their name to any fan and that team immediately comes to mind. This is ESPN5's Mount Rushmore series featuring the top players of all time from San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, Magnolia, Alaska, TNT, and Rain or Shine.
We start with the youngest franchise among the six, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Although the franchise started in 2007, it has already produced several notable players. What's more, some of them played or have played their entire careers with the team, a testament to its culture and stability.
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters own two championships in the PBA, winning the 2012 Governors' Cup and the 2016 Commissioner's Cup.
For nearly half a decade, the Elasto Painters embodied a culture and winning attitude that enamored fans. Amid the tug of war between traditional PBA powerhouses Talk 'N Text and San Miguel teams, Rain or Shine offered fans a different set of stars. The team has a unique style of play, filled with players who have a chip on their shoulders. They were spearheaded by a no-nonsense coach who used the sidelines as a personal battleground.
Beau Belga, easily one of the team's most recognizable players, is massive, imposing and a joy to watch.
He became a household name ever since he was named as one half of Extra Rice Inc. alongside JR Quiñahan. Whenever you watch a ROS game, you can't help but be drawn by his immense size or his on-court demeanor.
Listed as a 6-foot-5, 280-pound center, Belga is deceptively crafty and underrated as a high IQ basketball player. Opponents may be bigger, stronger, or faster than Belga, but nobody could ever impose their will on him. On offense, his signature isn't a post move or even a mid-range shot. Instead, it's a top-of-the-key 3-pointer or a drive off a beautiful shot fake that still catches foes by surprise.
Belga has never averaged more than 8.6 points throughout his career, but it was never about the numbers for him. It's his demeanor and intimidating presence that gives the Elasto Painters a unique edge. He is absolutely fearless and quite frankly, he doesn't care who he is up against.
The Elasto Painters' free-flowing, wheeling and dealing style of play wouldn't be complete without their gunslinger, Jeff Chan. He was a fixture in Rain or Shine basketball for seven seasons as the team's resident shooter.
Rain or Shine was always a dangerous team because it had one of the best snipers in the PBA. And Chan wasn't just a spot-up shooter; he could catch-and-shoot, move through screens then pull-up, or rise and shoot off the dribble. In his prime, he was an absolute deadshot and could overpower teams through his outside shooting.
In 2012, Chan cemented himself to PBA lore as the Finals MVP, helping RoS to its first title in franchise history. And in 2013, he was catapulted into superstardom as part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that bagged the silver medal in the FIBA Asia Championship.
Drafted as the first overall pick by Rain or Shine in the 2008 PBA Draft, Gabe Norwood immediately made an impact on the team.
In his first season, he was named PBA Rookie of the Year and selected into Mythical Second Team. His combination of skill and length made him a solid two-way player. He's also a 7-time PBA All-Defensive Team member as well as a 10-time PBA All-Star.
Norwood is a staple in the national team program, having represented the country since 2007. From the Jones Cup, SEA Games, FIBA Asia Championship, and FIBA World Cup, he has proudly suited up for the flag.
Amid all his accolades and accomplishments, Norwood has been the glue that has kept the Elasto Painters together. If guys like Paul Lee or Beau Belga brought the swag and the attitude, Norwood carried with him a calming presence for his team.
Paul Lee was the face of the franchise since his rookie year. Even during his early years in the league, he was already an assassin with the basketball whose offensive arsenal could rival any star.
With every step-back three, contested jumper, or daredevil drive, he rose to the occasion whenever Rain or Shine needed him. He didn't shy away from the game's biggest moments and often delivered when it mattered most.
Lee was a polarizing figure because he was daring and proud, which embodied the Elasto Painters' culture at that time. He was a fierce competitor and was a perfect fit for a small-market team with a rising fan base. He captured the Finals MVP award when ROS won the championship in 2016 in what turned out to be his last season with the franchise.