Quantcast
Latest Stories
NCAA SEASON 89 PREVIEW

Almazan’s transformation, Nambatac’s play key for Letran

By

MANILA, Philippines — Caloy Garcia, Letran’s new head coach, knows the Knights would need additional offensive production aside from the obvious in Mark Cruz, Kevin Racal and explosive rookie Rey Nambatac to go deep in the 89th NCAA Season.

And being known as a defensive player throughout his career, Raymond Almazan may be the most unlikeliest source of offense but his size, length and experience seemed to be just what Garcia is looking for.

“When I talked to him even before we started practicing, I told him that he’s going to get touches now in the post because I would need him to score,” Garcia recalled.

“Dati he’s just a defensive player but I told him if he wants to make it to the pros he also has to show he has offensive skills. That’s the challenge I’m giving him.”

Almazan has a great upside with his lengthy frame at six-foot-seven and his efforts to work on his offensive game and transform himself as a two-way player have been paying off for Letran, which sets up an interesting opening day clash with San Sebastian on Saturday, has shown in the Knights stint in the Filoil tournament.

During the preseason, Letran drew plays for Almazan on the low block and at times, Almazan, who is in his last playing year, was able to show off a couple of his low-post arsenals — the results of his hard work in practice.

“He only started practicing with us I think mid-May because he was focusing on the D-League, so once finished in the D-League, mas importante sa amin yung team offense namin rather than our individual skills but the nice thing about him is he comes earlier in workouts and does individual post drills,” Garcia told INQUIRER.net.

Garcia shows great confidence in his graduating player and it was evident during Letran’s game against De La Salle in the Filoil where Garcia ran post-up plays for Almazan over and over.

Almazan, who gamely embraces his new niche as the team’s leader, had trouble against the Green Archers’ big men Norbert Torres and Arnold Van Opstal — finishing with just two points on an embarrassing one-of-eight shooting from the field — considering all of his shots came on the low block and most didn’t even hit the rim.

“Actually he’s still adjusting because he’s more of an offensive rebounder where his scoring mostly comes from putbacks, tip ins, siguro nung binigyan ko siya ng pressure sa post na kailangan makuha yung bola sa post and make the right decisions I think he has been able to adjust.”

And that’s just part of the growing pains Almazan and Garcia have to live with for Letran to be successful and possibly repeat last year’s run where the team just fell a game short of winning it all.

Almazan’s role will be crucial for his team, along with fellow veterans Cruz and Racal as the Knights look to have a smooth transition with a winning season right away after the departure of long-time mentor Louie Alas, who guided the Knights to three championships under his watch.

“The team is adapting to the system very well. We’ve been practicing well for the last three months,” said Garcia. “Nice thing about coach Louie was he was able to leave me with a good defensive team. Maganda yung mga pinakita niya sa mga bata and we might carry over what coach Louie left.”

“The thing here lang is the players just need confidence in taking shots kasi before they had a different system and sa system na pinapasok namin ngayon kailangan they’re confident enough to take wide open shots kasi yun ang rules ko,” Garcia added.

Garcia’s well aware that if Almazan develops into a dominant force inside, it will open up the team’s shooters like Cruz and Nambatac as well as the driving lane for Racal, who is most effective when attacking the basket.

Alas’ unexpected exit after last season’s defeat to rival San Beda in the NCAA Finals also influenced his son Kevin, the team’s main man for the past couple of years, to forego his final year of eligibility.

Garcia has high expectations for his starting center but the pressure is also on Nambatac, whom Garcia said is up to fill in the void left by Alas.

“He’s a rookie but he plays more like a veteran in the Filoil,” Garcia said of his promising six-foot guard.

Nambatac’s stellar preseason showing even got the attention of one of college’s finest stars in Kiefer Ravena when the two matched up late April in the Filoil where Ateneo fashioned out a hard-fought 88-81 win.

“We saw what Rey Nambatac is capable of,” praised Ravena after the former Letran Squire standout broke down the Eagles defense with his ability to get to the rim en route to 19 points on 10-of-11 shooting at the line.

Garcia doesn’t think his team will be this year’s sleeper, perhaps because deep down he believes that with the pieces that he has in Almazan, Cruz, Nambatac and Racal, Letran is so much more than that.

“Anything can happen this season.”


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


More NCAA news

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.


Tags: Caloy Garcia , Kevin Alas , Kevin Racal , Letran Knights , Louie Alas , Mark Cruz , NCAA season 89 , Raymond Almazan , Rey Nambatac



Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement

News

  • Nepal officials go to Everest to try to end crisis
  • Escudero ready to defend self should name appear in Napoles’ list
  • Obama calls for peaceful end to island dispute
  • Russia not abiding by agreement on Ukraine—Obama
  • Magnitude 6.7 quake off British Columbia coast
  • Sports

  • Promoters Dela Hoya, Arum in talks for Pacquiao-Alvarez—report
  • Benzema guides Madrid to 1-0 win over Bayern
  • Suns’ Goran Dragic win NBA’s Most Improved Player award
  • Heat go up 2-0, hold off Bobcats 101-97
  • Ronaldo shakes off injury fears to play Bayern
  • Lifestyle

  • Photos explore dynamics of youths’ sexual identity
  • 12th Philippine Food Expo set at the World Trade Center
  • No tourist draw, Malang the croc will remain wild
  • The best flavors of summer in one bite, and more
  • Homemade yogurt, bread blended with pizza, even ramen
  • Entertainment

  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • Sony developing live-action Barbie comedy
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Return of ‘Ibong Adarna’
  • Practical Phytos plans his future
  • Business

  • Facebook profits triple as mobile soars
  • Insular Honors Sales Performers at Testimonial Rites
  • Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock
  • Cost-recovery provisions for affected gencos urged
  • This time, BIR goes after florists
  • Technology

  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 24, 2014
  • Talking to Janet
  • Respite
  • Bucket list
  • JPII in 1981: walking a tightrope
  • Global Nation

  • PH-HK relations repaired, but families of victims still being courted
  • Filipinos in Middle East urged to get clearance before returning
  • PH seeks ‘clearer assurance’ from US
  • China and rivals sign naval pact to ease maritime tensions
  • What Went Before: Manila bus hostage crisis
  • Marketplace