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Rocking but not Rolling: Almazan’s game improving, but still lacking maturity



Rain or Shine Head Coach, Yeng Guiao, went down to the depths of the world in one of the Elasto Painters’ timeouts in Game 5, serving stern wake-up calls to everyone on his side.

The way the infuriated mentor exploded would have easily broken noise meters and set a new Smart Araneta Coliseum decibel record, as the team effort suddenly dissipated in Game 5.

Elasto Painters big, Raymond Almazan, was one of those who learned a lesson the hard way, as he was on the wrong end of Guiao’s verbal wrath.

“Raymond kapag rume-rebound ka, mag-focus ka sa rebound. Nakikipaghawakan ka, walang mangyayari sa ‘yo!”

Game 5 exposed Almazan’s low level of maturity toward the game. Trying to get to Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters import, Ivan Johnson, seemed to be Almazan’s only reason to play, whether it was planned or not.

The strategy backfired as Johnson held his cool despite numerous cheap shots from the Rain or Shine camp. He scored 27 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, hit 3 of his 6 triples, and went 10-for-16 overall from the field.

Almazan, in stark contrast, had a nightmarish performance. He fouled out, had 4 points, missed both of his 2 field goal attempts, and was a minus-8 on the floor. He struggled all-night long and failed to equal his 13-point, 10-rebound output in Game 4 having too many distractions.

Guiao recognizes the importance of Almazan’s role for the team, and had to scold him primarily as a subtle way of telling him to play to win and focus on the bigger details.

People love the improvement Almazan showed this season, particularly in the Commissioner’s Cup, where he put on a relatively impressive show in rebounding and protecting the rim.

On offense, Almazan is Rain or Shine’s only legitimate post threat, and the way he operates inside the paint using footwork and quickness is slowly getting the attention of his observers.

Considering he is only in his second year in the league, Almazan has changed in many ways. He became a tougher player, a better defender, and a smarter operator underneath.

Almazan, however, failed to show any of that in Game 5. The match served as a reality check. There will always be frustrating times like this, but Almazan should start focusing on setting aside personal goals and winning the bigger battles.

He’s improved a lot, but he’s got a long way to go.


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