May 28, 2016
Countdown to Manila OQT: 38 days
Rain or Shine forward Raymond Almazan will train with Gilas Pilipinas to aid the injury-hit squad with its practices, head coach Tab Baldwin confirmed on Saturday.
“I expect Raymond to be with us tomorrow. As we’ve said, he is ineligible. We can’t fit him in the roster anywhere but he is excited. He just wants to help,” Baldwin said.
Almazan is not part of the 24-man pool, making him ineligible to compete for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in July.
But his addition is a welcome development for team, as Gilas has been dealing with various injuries to some of its pool players lately.
“Until we get June Mar (Fajardo) out there and Dray (Andray Blatche) at full speed, we are really light on numbers. This is going to help us a lot,” Baldwin said.
Blatche is already in the country. The naturalized center will skip Gilas’ Saturday practice session but shall be back on Sunday.
“He is tired after a long trip. He is enthusiastic. I want him to get over the trip, get his legs under him and feel good but tomorrow morning he’ll go as good as he feels. And I talked to him, I think by Monday, we think he should be ready to go full speed,” Baldwin said.
“He looks better. He seems more, he’s a little bit more light in his eyes.”
“I talked to Stan today, he said, ‘Coach, if you need a hand, if you’re short on bodies, call me,'” Baldwin shared.
Baldwin said such acts give him “goosebumps”, especially at a time where Gilas needs to have more bodies for its practice sessions.
“Honestly, it’s so motivating. When people say that to me, I get goosebumps. I really do because I think we should all feel that way for our national team and I appreciate those guys so much.”