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Tiebreaker Times


Raymond Almazan relishes second PBA crown, draws parallels to ROS’s 2016 triumph

Raymond Almazan bagged his second PBA championship on Sunday night and it felt as sweet as the first that he copped eight years ago.

The grizzled big man said that Meralco’s conquest of the Season 48 Philippine Cup was reminiscent of Rain or Shine’s 2016 Commissioner’s Cup golden run, in a sense that both teams had to build their way up basically from scratch.

“Pwede ko ‘tong ihalintulad sa 2016 namin, kasi talagang binuild namin ‘tong team na ‘to since I got traded to Meralco,” he offered moments after the Bolts’ 80-78 Game 6 victory at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Almazan was traded to Meralco in the middle of the 2019 season, three years after the Elasto Painters lorded over the import-laced conference.

The Letran product played a key role in that championship run, where RoS conquered the Alaska Aces in six games to give the franchise just its second championship in Asia’s pioneering pay-for-play league.

Reinforced by Pierre Henderson-Niles, that memorable batch also featured Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, and the bruising tandem of Beau Belga and JR Quinahan.

Guys like Jericho Cruz and Don Trollano were the younger wards then.

Ever since, Rain or Shine has taken pride in building its teams mainly through the draft and sometimes trades – and the same goes with Meralco.

2016-PBA-CC-Finals-G6-Rain-or-Shine-Champions Raymond Almazan relishes second PBA crown, draws parallels to ROS's 2016 triumph Basketball News PBA  - philippine sports news

Since getting Chris Newsome through the Rookie Draft in 2015, the Bolts have picked up solid talent through the same proceedings afterwards.

That includes Bong Quinto, Aaron Black, and most recently Brandon Bates, to name a few.

And so Almazan can’t help but remember his roots after helping Meralco finally win the prize it failed to bag four times in the past.

#ReadMore  Norman Black rues lack of production from Newsome, Amer in Game 5 loss

“Masarap yung feeling na yun. Kasi we’re not a stacked team, alam niyo naman ‘yun. Wala kami masyadong star player. Basta we believe in our system. And we believe in each other through ups and downs,” he said.

Almazan can’t help but feel sentimental as well in the journey they took in this conference, where at one point they fell second to the last during the elimination round before going on a run built on their grit-and-grind approach.

“Ito totoo ‘to ah, nung nasa bottom two na kami sa standing, I was planning to tell my wife na, ‘Ma, mukhang maaga tayo magpapahinga ngayon.’ Kasi talagang nasa pangalawa na kami [sa ibaba],” he recalled.

“Tapos mga kalaban namin Ginebra, San Miguel,” he added, as they faced Ginebra in the semis. “Mabibigat. So, ginrind out namin ‘yun one game at a time. So ayun, ito ‘yung resulta. Napakasarap sa feeling.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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