The Meralco Bolts have always been vocal about how badly they want a big man in order for them to compete with the best of the best in the PBA – especially during the All-Filipino conferences.
Their wish has finally been granted.
On Tuesday afternoon, the PBA approved the trade between Meralco and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, which will send 6-foot-8 center Raymond Almazan to the Bolts in exchange for first round draft picks in the next draft and the draft two years after that.
And no one’s happier than Meralco head coach Norman Black. Black and the team received the good news just minutes after winning over the Alaska Aces, 87-80, in a tuneup game at the Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.
“We’ve gone quite a few years now without being able to man the paint, particularly in the All-Filipino. We have bigs. I’m not downplaying them. But Almazan is one of the best bigs in the country,” said the Grand Slam coach.
“He’s a national team player. He’s six-eight, which gives us some size.”
Almazan’s arrival is a huge boost to the Orangemen’s frontcourt, which features the likes of Jammer Jamito, Jason Ballesteros, KG Cañaleta, Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan, and Ranidel De Ocampo.
Add to that the fact that he’ll be forming a twin-tower combination with 6-foot-9 import Gani Lawal in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup, which will open this Sunday, May 19, and will see Meralco take on Blackwater Elite.
“I will say he definitely will make us better,” Black said.
“He’s a good shot blocker, a good rebounder. He can score around the basket – all the things that we need. We’re giving up a premium for him but we wanna win now.”
However, Black does not want to get too hyped over the arrival of the Letran alumnus. The decorated bench strategist first wants to see if all their expectations will be met.
“Let’s see what happens about the fortunes.”