PBA Philippine Cup

By avoiding early foul trouble, Almazan plays key role as Meralco regains finals control vs San Miguel

Delfin Dioquino

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By avoiding early foul trouble, Almazan plays key role as Meralco regains finals control vs San Miguel

BIG. Raymond Almazan in action for the Meralco Bolts in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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Raymond Almazan redeems himself from a scoreless outing with a double-double in Game 3 as Meralco grabs a 2-1 lead in the PBA Philippine Cup finals

MANILA, Philippines – Raymond Almazan knows the longer he stays on the court, the more chances he gets to help Meralco.

By avoiding early foul trouble, Almazan played a crucial role as the Bolts regained control of the PBA Philippine Cup finals following a nail-biting 93-89 win over defending champion San Miguel in Game 3 on Sunday, June 9.

The veteran big man produced a double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds on top of 3 blocks in the victory that gave Meralco a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

It was a bounce-back performance for Almazan after he went scoreless in their 93-89 loss in Game 2, which saw him play just under 14 minutes no thanks to four quick fouls.

Almazan fouled out with a minute left in Game 3, but his efforts were enough for the Bolts to inch closer to their goal of winning their first-ever championship.

“It is hard to be aggressive when you’re in foul trouble. I just tried to stay out of foul trouble so I can remain on the court,” said Almazan in Filipino. “I wanted to be aggressive inside and I did not settle with my jump shot.”

Aside from his offensive contributions, Almazan also impacted the game on the other end as he and the rest of the Meralco frontline made life hell for Beermen star June Mar Fajardo.

Fajardo still finished with a 12-point, 15-rebound double-double, but the seven-time MVP attempted just a season-low-tying 5 field goals and committed a season-high 7 turnovers in over 40 minutes of action.

“All of our bigs should always be ready to defend June Mar,” said Almazan. “I think there is not a single player that can guard June Mar for the whole game.”

“The thing that we need to do is to tire him out so we can have a better chance to win.”

Although Almazan and the Bolts won two of the first three games, they are well aware of the fact that beating San Miguel in a series is a different beast altogether.

Since drafting Fajardo in 2012, the Beermen have won 10 championships and lost in the finals just twice.

But Meralco is up to the challenge.

“We have a goal and we know that goal will not come easy,” said Almazan. “We know what we have to go through.” – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.