During his time with the Letran Knights, Raymond Almazan, now in the PBA playing for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, clearly embodied the team’s culture: undying bravery against all odds.
True to their form, the Letran Knights have been the biggest surprise so far in the young NCAA season by winning their first two games in convincing fashion.
They opened their campaign with an 82-53 blowout win against the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde Blazers and once again wielded the upset axe in their second game against the stronger Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers by earning a convincing 78-62 win.
In their win against JRU, Rey Nambatac exploded for 25 points and 4 rebounds while Kevin Racal had 15 points. In addition, team captain Mark Cruz had 12 points and 2 assists.
“They’re playing well ngayon so sana magtuloy-tuloy lang,” Almazan told Tiebreaker Times about Letran’s hot start. “Nakikita ko naman siguro na contender pa ito at isa sa mga top seed sa NCAA. Hindi naman nawawala Letran.”
Letran became an undersized team since Almazan left and they rely on their disruptive fullcourt pressure often to score easy points. But sometimes looks can be deceiving because the Knights have proven that they can win with that kind of play in their past two games and during the preseason tournaments. The only question that now remains is how long they can sustain that kind of play in the long run when teams finally adjust to them.
“Kahit dati naman at kahit undersized o talagang lugi ang lineup lumalaban pa rin naman. Pag sinabing Letran, ang puso nandiyan talaga sa laban nila.”
Moreover, Almazan also pointed out that he is impressed on how Cruz is making strides as the team’s leader despite his obvious physical disadvantages. He said that he makes up everything by having nerves of steel in every game he plays.
“Kahit noong panahon pa namin sobra na [tapang niya]. Kahit alam mong maliit siya nandoon pa rin ang puso [niya sa paglalaro]. Sana ang pinapakita niya ngayon maging tuloy-tuloy pa,” he added.
Now, with Letran just starting to get its feet wet in the NCAA tourney, Almazan expects that his alma mater will have a legitimate shot in making the playoffs this season. For him, all it takes to achieve is by exerting more effort in their games and showing maturity as the season goes on.
“Siguro mag-iiba yan [ng momentum] pag papasok na sa playoffs. Doon mo makikita ang mga matured na player,” Almazan ended. “Siguro tuloy-tuloy lang nila laro nila [para maabot iyon].”
Letran’s next game will be against the Mapua Cardinals this coming Friday, 12 noon, at the FilOil Flying V Arena.