MANILA, Philippines — Raymond Almazan has always voiced out the need to step up for Letran in his final year — and so far, it hasn’t just been all talk.
He unleashed 27 points and 15 rebounds on Friday, and that’s not going to be the last time this lanky center is going to churn out those kinds of numbers for the Knights.
“Ang mindset ko talaga this season kailangan mag-step up eh, malaking challenge at opportunity ito para sakin this season,” said Almazan.
Letran hiked its record to 2-1 after they survived San Sebastian, 96-94, in overtime with Alamzan, once again, taking the lead.
With the departure of Jam Cortez and the prolific scoring Kevin Alas, Almazan is expected to do more than just effectively clean up the glass.
In fact, with the burden of scoring spread around the entire squad, new head coach Caloy Garcia believes Almazan should average a double-double this coming season.
“I think he should kasi this is his 5th year, and rebounding should not be a problem. Come the NCAA, he will get his touches,” said Garcia. “Ang instructions to ko nga sa huli na bigay kay Almazan yung bola.”
It shows how much trust Garcia has on Almazan, who skipped a few games last season only to return to help the Knights make a run to the finals.
And even with Almazan’s time split between his commitment with his mother squad and in the PBA D-League, Garcia is extending extra patience for his gentle giant.
“Mahirap siyempre, pero may usapan naman kami na pag malapit na NCAA, mageensayo na samin,” said Garcia. “Kasi may goal din kasi sya, may opportunity siya di ba, ayaw ko din naman tanggalin yun. Alam natin hanap buhay din yun,”
“Ang maganda dito kay Raymund, may tira sa labas. And he knows how to pass and give confidence to his teammates,” added Garcia.
And Almazan, who is set to join the 2013 PBA Rookie Draft in November, has made it a personal goal to toughen the rookies up.
“Yung mga rookie din sinasabihan ko, di naman akin inaasa sa lahat, kailangan din yung mga off the bench mag-step up,” said Almazan.
“Bilang ako yung beterano sa loob, kailangan ko magpakita sa kanila. Kailangan ng leadership kasi maraming nawala.”