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Meralco was never the same after Almazan’s injury, laments Norman Black

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Tiebreaker Times Meralco was never the same after Almazan's injury, laments Norman Black Basketball News PBA  Raymond Almazan PBA Season 44 Norman Black Meralco Bolts 2019 PBA Governors Cup

Meralco was never the same after unfortunately losing Raymond Almazan due to a knee injury. 

That was Bolts head coach Norman Black’s assessment when the Orangemen lost to tormentors Barangay Ginebra anew in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, Friday night.

Faced a lot of adversity in this series. We lost our big men in the third game, first quarter, and we never seemed to be the same team again,” said Black moments after the 93-105 defeat.

“Certainly, we faced a team that’s quite big and quite talented, and without Raymond in the middle, we suffered.”

Almazan hurt his left knee just six minutes into Game Three last Sunday following a bad landing after a shot,. Later results of the MRI showed that he sustained a lateral meniscal tear.

Despite his condition, Almazan bravely played in Game Four, though the Bolts lost. He even said that he wanted to finish the series, but he did not play in Game Five.

“I think, before Raymond got hurt, it was tied one-to-one; the first quarter (of Game Three) was a close quarter. We were competitive, but once he got hurt, everything changed,” Black maintained.

“I’m not blaming it on Raymond wasn’t there, but that was a big factor.”

Still, Black credited the Gin Kings, who have won their third Governors’ Cup championship in four years.

“A lot of credit should go to Ginebra,” said the 62-year-old Black, who last won a PBA title in 2013 when he steered the Talk ‘N’ Text Tropang Texters to the top of the Philippine Cup.

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And if there’s anything positive he can take from the loss, Black said that it was having more talent in his crew.

Besides Almazan, the Bolts have added veteran gunslinger Allein Maliksi and stocky point guard Nard Pinto — pieces who will definitely be of great help for them moving forward.

“We came in eleventh and eighth place before the third conference so the addition of Raymond, the addition of Allein, of course, the return of AD, gave us a more competitive team,” he said.

“And, gave us a chance to win a championship. Have to be very, very happy with that. It just shows that we improved our talent and talent wins games.​”

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