Bolts hoping Almazan recovers quickly from knee injury
Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netThroughout its PBA life, Meralco has never been regarded as a force in the Philippine Cup.
And the Bolts’ record in the centerpiece tournament certainly validates that.
So with June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer out because of a shinbone injury and Barangay Ginebra’s 7-foot center Greg Slaughter opting to go on leave, Meralco would have been in the mix as a pretournament favorite when the league’s 45th season gets off the ground on March 8, only for the Bolts to still not have the man that turned their fortunes around last year.
Coach Norman Black—with Fajardo and Slaughter not there—would have been left with probably the best pure center in the field, but he will have to wait for at least another month after opening day to see if Raymond Almazan would be ready to do battle coming off a meniscus tear suffered in the Finals of the Governors’ Cup last season.
“[Our all-Filipino showing in the past] hasn’t been the best, because let’s face it, we haven’t had the talent the other teams have had,” Black said on Monday after the team’s first practice since the Governors’ Cup loss to Barangay Ginebra.
“We didn’t have the talent like Ginebra and San Miguel Beer. Actually I thought we had a very, very good chance this conference,” he added. “[Raymond] would’ve given us the first opportunity to have a big man to really match up with the other big men around the league.”
Until that injury not only denied the Bolts of a fair chance against the Gin Kings, but also of a solid man in the middle come the Philippine Cup.
“With his absence, we can only hope that he recovers well and comes back [soon],” Black said of Almazan, who could be back around early April.
Black believes the onus now is how he manages practices as the preseason plods along.
There are other slot men in the league who are out of commission. Guys like Phoenix’s Jake Pascual and Dave Marcelo are the latest big men to fall due to injuries. INQ
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