It hasn’t been an ideal start for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the 2023 William Jones Cup.

Two losses in two games have pretty much taken the Elasto Painters out of championship contention and that both defeats were blowouts certainly rubs salt into their wounds.

As it stands, we’re looking at another instance where PBA teams are getting blown out by foreign squads. The San Miguel Beermen and the TNT Tropang Giga suffered lopsided losses in the 2023 East Asia Super League Champions Week last March. Clearly, that didn’t sit well with Philippine basketball fans and the fact that some even still mention it on social media five months after the tournament ended only means that those Ls left an indelible mark.

Rain or Shine’s defeats may have come at the hands of Chinese Taipei’s national teams, but Chinese Taipei is ranked 69th in the FIBA World Rankings, 29 spots lower than the Philippines. In fact, since their fourth-place finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Cup (back then known as the FIBA Asia Championship for Men), Chinese Taipei has finished no higher than 10th place in the succeeding editions of the tournament.

Of course, some will say that the Elasto Painters continue to ramp up preparations for the start of PBA’s 48th season, which will begin with the 2023-24 PBA Commissioner’s Cup. Rain or Shine finished with a 5-7 record in the 2022-23 Honda PBA Commissioner’s Cup and needed a 110-100 win over the NLEX Road Warriors in the playoff for the eighth seed to advance to the postseason. That trip, however, proved to be a quick one as they were blown out by the Bay Area Dragons by 30 points.

Nick Evans, the Elasto Painters’ import in the 42nd staging of the Jones Cup, will also suit up for them in the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner’s Cup and he’s still getting up to speed with Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao’s system. Aside from Evans, the Elasto Painters have also opted to give more minutes to their younger players, some of whom already figured into prominent roles last season.

Call it a reality check, or as Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes puts it, a learning experience. But losses like this just show how Philippine basketball has remained far behind. Countries that don’t even have basketball as their top sport have seemingly caught up or have even overtaken us in terms of talent and system. In Group A of the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, the Dominican Republic (Baseball), Italy (football), and Angola (football) are known more for competing in other sports.

It’d be easy to put the blame on certain parties but we’re at the point where everyone takes part in the collective blame. The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) brought in foreign coaches and made headway in terms of getting the buy-in of local leagues both in the professional and amateur ranks, but then when a major international tournament comes around, we seem to revert to our old ways. Players have also become iffy with their national team commitments, but at times who can blame them?

However, there is hope. The amateur and professional leagues in the Philippines eventually adjusted their schedules to cater to the national team and some of the teams in these leagues have adapted their systems to what is being run in other parts of the world. The PBA, though, can still do more. Rather than calling out players and sticking to what works for them, perhaps it’s better for the second-oldest professional basketball league to look inward and see what works for Philippine basketball as a whole, lest they want to continue seeing their teams get embarrassed on the international stage.

The PBA continues to take a beating in the international stage through its teams, this time through the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ participation in the 2023 William Jones Cup. It’s a given that they’re a step behind, but what will it take for them to help put an end to this run of huge losses?