Now healthy, Almazan focused on elevating his game to finally help Meralco
MANILA, Philippines–Finally able to start a conference for his new team fully healthy, Raymond Almazan delivered a fine performance to help Meralco turn back Magnolia, 98-92, on Saturday night.
Almazan scored four of his total 19 points and made an emphatic block on the defending champions’ Mark Barroca in the turnaround at the final 2:27 mark of the match.
“This is probably the best game of Raymond since he joined our team,” champion mentor Norman Black said of his big man during the post-game presser.
“He really could not get his bearings in the last conference … But we’ve had a chance to get him comfortable with the team now,” he added.
Almazan also had 13 rebounds to go with his scoring output. He nearly outscored the entire Magnolia five in the payoff period, where he accounted for 12 points.
The lanky forward said that he felt that he has much to make up for after being riddled with injuries in the last conference’s opening week.
“I needed to raise my game,” he told scribes. “There are much more youthful players coming [into the league] —stronger, younger, more athletic. It’s only logical that I improve my game.”
Almazan, formerly of Rain or Shine, was shipped to the Bolts before the Commissioner’s Cup for two first-round draft picks. He wasn’t fully able to reinforce Meralco due to an assortment of injuries during the second conference.
But now in tip-top shape and with Allen Durham around, Black feels it’s the most opportune time to get over the Governors’ Cup hump.
“The combination with (Raymond) and AD is a very good combination defensively because Raymond can cover a lot of our mistakes defensively by blocking shots and AD can control the boards,” he said.
The Bolts finished as bridesmaids twice in this tournament for the last three seasons—all of those campaigns were led by Durham himself.
“We just have to make sure we stay healthy and keep coming to work every day to improve,” said Black.
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