The 2020 PBA Philippine Cup has showcased some fine offenses from various teams, and it’s resulting in a string of high-scoring performances – RR Pogoy’s career-high, 45-point outburst (10-for-17 from three) in TNT Tropang Giga’s conference-opener is a prime example.

One team who isn’t joining the offensive explosion, however, and is still experiencing success thus far, are the versatile and rugged Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, who are continuing to boast their suffocating defense. They currently hold a 3-1 record, good for third in the conference.

Led by standouts Javee Mocon, Rey Nambatac, and Sidney Onwubere, and the guidance of veteran superstar James Yap, ROS is far and away the top-ranked defense in the league. The team is only allowing the opposition to score 80.5 points per game on 37.2% shooting, all while also forcing 17.7 turnovers per contest.

Here’s a quick recap of how disruptive the group is, even in defeat:

  • October 22 vs. the Alaska Aces, (L, 88-89) – They forced a Philippine Cup-high 22 turnovers, and could’ve won if not for Nambatac missing a potential go-ahead lay-up.
  • October 18 vs. the Northport Batang Pier (W, 70-68) – They stifled Northport into shooting just 30% from the floor (also the lowest in the conference), with opposing big man Christian Standhardinger only going 5-for-18 and fouling out.
  • October 16 vs. the TerraFirma Dyip (W, 91-82) – They held them to 21% shooting from three and 36% overall, along with forcing 19 turnovers.
  • October 13 vs. the San Miguel Beermen (W, 87-83) – They held them to 24% shooting from three and 34% shooting overall, and a woeful five second-chance points.

Now, while all are impressive numbers nonetheless, and the great team effort will always be commendable, a couple of things were actually left off. There’s a classic “but” in that wave of compliments: ROS is your typical ‘all defense, no offense’ squad.

It brings us to the original question: how far can ROS’s elite defense really take them? Yes, defense will indeed win you championships, but that’s if your offense is good enough too.

The Elasto Painters are dead-last in the conference in scoring (84 PPG) and three-point shooting (25%), which are stats that bottom-feeders usually have. No team can win a title with such numbers, especially in an era where everyone is shooting threes at a high volume.

The rhythm-killing, slow-paced style might also be causing some friendly fire. It may be dragging the true offensive potential of their top guys down, particularly Mocon. The 25-year-old is averaging 14.7 PPG with solid shooting percentages (46% overall and 47% from three). Who knows how good his numbers would be under a faster, more aggressive attack?

Hopefully, the team can make the adjustments sooner rather than later as it will cause the same problems it had in previous conferences.

Keep in mind that terrible offense is what got the Elasto Painters booted out in last year’s Philippine Cup. They could not close out the lower-seeded Magnolia Hotshots in the semifinals despite jumping out into a 2-0 series lead. The series eventually went the full distance, and while their defense held Magnolia to just 63 points on 26% shooting in Game 7, ROS’s offense frustratingly performed worse and only scored 60.

Rain or Shine will be back on the floor in tomorrow’s double-header. They will face the BlackWater Elite at 4:00 PM.