Tuesday evening marked the return of Raymond Almazan to the PBA Finals after three years. as Meralco and Barangay Ginebra began their duel for the 2019 Governors’ Cup crown.
And the 6-foot-8 big man showed how much he really loves being in the Big Dance with his performance.
Almazan showed aggressiveness early on, picking up 13 points in just the first half. He finished with 20 points on an impressive 69.2-percent shooting from the field alongside 13 rebounds.
“It was a dream come true for me na makalaban Ginebra. Bata pa lang ako, lahat ng mga taga sa amin Ginebra. So kailangan kong magpakitang-gilas for the whole team.”
Unfortunately for him, though, he saw his efforts negated. The Bolts ended up absorbing an 87-91 loss.
“To be honest, kahit maganda yung laro ko, talo naman kami, parang wala din eh,” he said.
“‘Di ko iniisip kung maganda’ng laro ko or what eh, basta manalo kami. ‘Yun naman ang main goal.”
Almazan lamented that the breaks of the game didn’t favor Meralco. The Bolts actually led by 10 points twice in the third, before Ginebra roared back and took an 80-73 lead early in the fourth.
Import Allen Durham had a chance to tie the match up, but saw his lay-up blocked by Japeth Aguilar with 14 seconds left. Justin Brownlee then sank his free throws to ice the game.
“Breaks of the game eh,” said Almazan, who sparked a 12-4 blitz through a one-handed dunk that allowed Meralco to regain the upper hand, 85-84, with 2:38 remaining in the game.
Now, though, Almazan is simply moving on from the stinging loss. He’s also raring to bounce back in Game Two on Friday, January 10, 7:00 p.m. at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.
Almazan believes in the Bolts’ ability to rebound since they have done so in the semis versus TNT. The Orangemen lost to the KaTropa in Game One, 94-103, but went on to win the series, 3-2.
“Sabi ko nga nung after ng game namin na we stay together. Parang ganito rin naman sa may Talk ‘N Text, kasi diba natalo kami sa Game One? So kaya naming bumounce back.”