Raymond Almazan showed his value for Meralco when he led the Bolts to a successful start in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup over defending champs Magnolia Hotshots, Saturday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-8 slotman played his finest outing as an Orangeman, finishing with 19 points. He had 12 in the fourth quarter alone where the Bolts unloaded a 12-0 assault that turned an 86-92 deficit into a 98-92 victory.
Almazan also collected 13 rebounds, two assists, and a block in the near-34 minutes he played.
“This is probably the best game of Raymond Almazan since he joined our team,” lauded coach Norman Black of Almazan.
“Basta ginawa lang namin game plan namin and yung sinabi ni coach sa huddle na let’s trust each other whatever happens. Win or lose,” Almazan, a six-year pro, added. “Basta gusto niya yung trust ng players sa isa’t isa, nandoon.
“So ayun yung nangyari. Tapos come-from-behind win, so big win for us.”
Almazan is about two weeks removed from a fruitless stint in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. And as soon as he and Gilas Pilipinas returned, the Bataan native immediately buckled down to work with the Bolts.
For Almazan, he was simply motivated than ever to become a better version of himself.
“Pagbalik ko one day off, salang agad ako sa practice. Kasi alam kong malapit na yung liga. And ayaw ko ring mag-rest eh. Gusto kong mag-bounce back bilang ilang conference ako on and off,” said the cager out of Letran.
“Pinaghandaan ko din eh. Hundred-percent na (dapat) ready physically and mentally, so kailangan eh. ‘Di na rin tayo pa-bata eh. May mga bagong batang pumapasok — mas malakas, mas bata, mas athletic,” added the 30-year-old.
But it’s not just about himself. For Almazan, what also pushes him to work harder is his desire to help Meralco become perennial contenders, since he himself misses the feeling of playing in a bigger stage like the semis or the finals.
“Gusto kong trabahuin ‘tong conference. Gusto ko yung Meralco contender every conference,” he said.
“Gusto ko nasa semi-finals kami, kasi nakaka-miss yung feeling na nasa semis o finals ka eh.”
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