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Almazan rise, Ponferrada entry allowing Rain or Shine to go big

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During the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft, Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao chose to pick guards to upgrade his backcourt instead of much-needed bigs to add to their frontline.

He added it was a move the team wouldn’t regret later on and after the Elasto Painters put away the Star Hotshots Wednesday in the 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup opener, it proved to be another brilliance from Guiao.

The addition of 6-foot-7 Jewel Ponferrada via the Jervy Cruz trade during the offseason gave the Elasto Painters a legitimate big to protect the interior with his size and strength.

He played 18 minutes and had six points and six rebounds. More importantly, he kept most of the Rain or Shine frontliners fresh towards the end.

Rain or Shine went big in the fourth quarter where it outscored Star, 27-17. Beau Belga and JR Quinahan took turns in doing damage for the Elasto Painters on offense with 28 points combined, having enough fuel to contribute.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Almazan rise, Ponferrada entry allowing Rain or Shine to go big    “He is a big addition for us and we are happy to finally see him on the floor. We respect his game in practice and after what he put out, it is something we will need every night,” Gabe Norwood said of Ponferrada.

“There will be a little bit more minutes he’ll get to play and he will enjoy that opportunity. Hopefully he can continue to make the most out of it.”

And the improvement of the Rain or Shine frontcourt does not stop with Ponferrada. Third year forward Raymond Almazan showed even more promise with his rim-protecting ability.

Aside from gaining a few pounds, Almazan became even more athletic with his footwork and showcased better bounce. In only 24 minutes of play, Almazan scored nine points and hauled down 11 rebounds, which might be a glimpse of how he performs on a nightly basis.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Almazan rise, Ponferrada entry allowing Rain or Shine to go big    “Nothing is new dahil kung ano ang tinatrabaho ko, ganun pa rin naman. Siguro nasa mindset ko nang wag maging tight sa loob ng court. And third year ko na, panget naman kung tight pa rin parang rookie. Maraming mag-i-step up sa amin at hindi ako natatakot kahit ilang minuto lang laruin ko,” Almazan said.

Rain or Shine outrebounded Star, 53-48, limited them to only 11 offensive rebounds and only 48 percent from inside the paint.

“He picked up from last conference where he went up against the bigger imports. He has that confidence right now that no one is going to score inside the paint. So far it is good and it is a matter of being consistent now,” Norwood added on Almazan.

With Ponferrada around, Almazan shares they get additional help with defending, while staying full of energy in the long run.

Belga (27:21) and Quinahan (26:29) for instance both didn’t need to play extensive minutes.

“Malaking bagay si Jewel para sa amin. Matangkad siya at may shooting rin sa labas so konting kumpiyansa lang and okay na siya sa amin. Pina-practice naman eh,” he said.

Guiao has been going with big units on the floor especially in import-laden conferences but with the upgrade and continuous improvement of his bigs, it looks like the mentor will have the luxury of going big.

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