Groping for form, Almazan still makes presence felt in Bolts win

Raymond Almazan

Meralco center Raymond Almazan. INQUIRER PHOTO/Tristan Tamayo

MANILA, Philippines — Raymond Almazan played less than 10 minutes in his return to Meralco on Wednesday but that was enough time for him to show just how crucial his role is for his team.

In his first game back from a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee, Almazan managed to make an impact despite seeing limited action on the floor, helping the Bolts pick up their first win of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup in Angeles, Pampanga.

The 6-foot-8 center scored five points and grabbed five rebounds in just nine minutes and 37 seconds as Meralco trounced Alaska, 93-81.

“Just having him back is a big confidence booster for the team. He gives us size, he gives us athletic ability inside the paint,” said Meralco head coach Norman Black.

“We can pretty much match up with any team in the league size-wise when he is out there. He has time restriction on how long he can play, we can only play him 10 minutes,” he added.

Black said the plan is to stretch Almazan’s playing time as the conference goes along until he’s back to logging his usual minutes.

Meralco will need Almazan more than ever on Sunday when it faces rival Barangay Ginebra, which has 6-foot-9 forward Japeth Aguilar in the middle.

“Hopefully on Sunday against Ginebra, since we’re going up against Japeth Aguilar and some very big players, he will be able to play more minutes in that particular game,” Black said.

“He got his feet wet tonight. He has not been on the basketball court for quite a while since he got injured in the championship series against Ginebra this year. I think he was very happy to be back on the court today.”

Almazan sustained his injury in the Governors’ Cup Finals last January where the Gin Kings knocked off the Bolts in five games.


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