Durham finally gets ‘big help’ inside with Almazan in tow for Bolts
MANILA, Philippines—Meralco’s hopes for a Governors’ Cup title are once again pinned on its prolific import Allen Durham, who led the Bolts to back-to-back finals berths and a semifinals appearance in his previous three stints.
This time, however, Durham will have additional help in the paint.
“We’ve never really had a local player that really mans the paint,” Meralco head coach Norman Black told the Inquirer on Saturday shortly after holding South Korean side Jeonju KCC Egis to a 70-70 draw in a friendly at Meralco Gym.
“I’m thankful that Raymond’s here because that’s a big help for AD this year, the fact that he has another big guy who can rebound the basketball and match-up with other bigs in the league,” he said, referring to 6-foot-8 center Raymond Almazan. “Things we don’t normally have during the all-Filipino.”
Almazan was acquired by Meralco before the start of the Commissioner’s Cup last May, a move that finally addressed the team’s hole in the frontcourt.
“We know how Meralco’s level of play changes whenever they play Allen,” Almazan said in Filipino.
The Bolts will also be asking the same production from their old reliables.
“Baser Amer, Chris Newsome, and Cliff Hodge—they all have to perform very, very well for us to be successful.”
The Bolts will soon find out how far their current roster can take them when they take on defending champion Magnolia on Saturday at Araneta Coliseum.
Black doesn’t seem to be worried at all with Durham back.
“Having AD back gives us a lot of confidence we could beat any team in the league,” he said. “And with the locals playing the way they did the way today against this Korean team, then we certainly have a chance.”
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