MANILA, Philippines – Raymond Almazan just wants to win at all cost, even at the expense of his health and fitness.
Almazan endured the pain from a meniscal tear on his left knee and decided to suit up for Meralco in Game 4 of the PBA Governors’ Cup finals against Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday, January 15.
The best-of-seven affair is his first finals series since winning his lone PBA title with Rain or Shine in 2016 and he did not want to regret not playing.
“I’m not saying I’m a hero but I really want to win,” said Almazan, who had to take pain killers to alleviate the discomfort caused by the injury and likened the pain to a needle piercing through a finger.
“At first, I felt slightly awkward because it’s my first time playing through an injury, but because of my willingness to win and when I hear the loud cheers from the crowd, the pain goes away,” he added.
Slotted in the starting lineup, Almazan went to work and recorded 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 block in nearly 28 minutes of action.
His sacrifice, though, went for naught as the Bolts succumbed to a 72-94 loss that paved the way for the Gin Kings to take a commanding 3-1 lead.
It was the most lopsided win of the finals after the first 3 games were decided by an average of 4.7 points and Ginebra looks set to wrap up the series.
Almazan echoed the sentiments of Meralco coach Norman Black, who admitted he was “embarrassed” by the way his team played.
“I told my teammates that if we didn’t want to play, we should have just given the trophy to Ginebra,” Almazan said.
“Whatever we should be doing on the court, we should do it now because after this, there won’t be a next time. It will be the all-Filipino conference again so we should leave it out all on the court.”
As the Bolts seek to live another day when they meet the Gin Kings for Game 5 on Friday, January 17, at the Mall of Asia, Almazan is determined to buck the pain anew and give his side a fighting chance.
“I want to finish the series,” he said. – Rappler.com
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