MANILA, Philippines — Even the baddest boys of the PBA can barely move, push or simply match up with KIA's 7-foot-3 behemoth PJ Ramos.
Both veteran Beau Belga and sophomore Raymond Almazan, admitted guarding the biggest import of the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup was not a walk in the park.
And after Rain or Shine's top-seed, twice-to-beat-clinching 119-99 victory over KIA on Sunday, March 22, they were both simply left in awe.
"Mahirap sobra. Siguro mga 50 pounds more than ang bigat niya sa akin," the 6-foot-5 Belga remarked.
(It's very hard. He's probably around 50 pounds heavier than me.)
"And he knows how to play, he knows how to use his body. Sabi ko kanina sa sarili ko maitulak ko siya ng malayo-layo, good na ako. Kung ma-shoot-an niya ako okay lang."
(I told myself if I could just push him away for a little distance, I'm good. If he shoots over me it's okay.)
"Sobrang bigat, grabe. Parang NBA caliber na yung mga ganoon e," the 6-foot-8 beanpole Almazan said, his eyes wide. (Really very heavy. That's like NBA-caliber already.)
For this game, Belga was tasked to try and contain the dominant Puerto Rican center while Almazan, who played major minutes over JR Quiñahan, was assigned on help defense.
It made no difference though.
Ramos went on to dominate, singlehandedly carrying the Carnival on his shoulders with a 45-point, 21-rebound performance that was almost enough for a KIA comeback in the second half.
"Sa NCAA or dito (PBA) wala ako nakakatapat na ganoon, sobrang laki grabe," Almazan said, amazed at the big man. "Sobrang bigat. Kahit anong gawin mong tulak hindi matulak."
(I never matched up with anyone like that in the NCAA or here in the PBA, he's so big. He's so heavy. No matter how hard I push I just can't move him.)
For Belga and the rest of the Painters, Ramos' explosive performance was all they expected and planned for. The game plan was to stymie the rest of the locals and let Ramos have his way.
That made all the difference.
"Kasi kahit i-double mo malaki talaga e," added Belga, who had 8 points and 3 rebounds in the win.
"Dinadalawa na namin nung import talagang pag gusto niya wala kang magagawa."
(Because even if we double him he's just too big. We double him with our import but when Ramos really wants to do something, you can't do anything about it.)
It also helped that Almazan took charge midway in the fourth as KIA was closing in after chopping Rain or Shine's 27-point lead to 9 points.
Almazan orchestrated a solo 8-point run to push the Painters back up by double-figures, which was enough to turn back a surging Carnival and finish the eliminations at 8-3 over everybody.
Almazan, who struggled from the perimeter prior to his 9-point fourth quarter outburst, said he came alive after head coach Yeng Guiao knocked some sense into him.
"Medyo nagising ng kaunti nang nasigawan ni coach (I woke up a little bit after coach yelled at me)," shared Almazan, who finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds.
"Kasi yung dalawang jump shots ko sumobra e. Sabi niya, 'kahit ako kaya ko gawin yun e!' So yun sabi ko hindi na ako titira, sa loob na ako maglalaro."
(My two jump shots were too strong. He said, 'even I could shoot that!' So I told myself I won't shoot anymore and I'll just play inside.)
The Painters await its quarterfinals foe as the elimination round wraps up on Wednesday, March 25. — Rappler.com