MANILA, Philippines – Raymond Almazan had a performance to remember as he set a career-high in rebounds in Meralco's 92-74 romp over Columbian in the PBA Governors' Cup on Friday, November 8.
The 6-foot-8 big man collared a personal-best 24 rebounds to go with 18 points and 2 blocks to key the Bolts to their seventh win in 9 games – a record good enough for them to solidify their hold of the No. 3 spot.
Meralco coach Norman Black summed it up to Almazan being a "blessing" to the team.
"We got him in the second conference and we received him with an injury already. Took him a little while to recover from that injury," said Black of Almazan, who was traded from Rain or Shine still nursing an injured calf.
"By the time he did recover, our conference was over already. But now, he's healthy, and he knows the system already, and he's quite comfortable with his teammates already."
"He's been a blessing, there's no question about that."
Almazan has reestablished his place as one of the best big men in the league, averaging 14.9 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks, and proving to be a complementary piece for import Allen Durham.
With Almazan being a legitimate inside threat, defenses have to pick their poison between him and Durham, who norms 30.8 points, 14.0 rebounds, and 6.9 assists.
Their combination – paired with the resurgence of Baser Amer and steady play of Chris Newsome and Bong Quinto – have worked wonders for the Bolts as Meralco leads the PBA in point difference of 13.0 per game.
For Almazan, he just wants to repay the Bolts for their trust in him.
"I'm also blessed they got me. Nothing against Rain or Shine. I'm blessed that I'm with the MVP group. It's not just me who they take care of but also my family," Almazan said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"This is just my way of giving back. I'm happy here."
Meralco will try to cement its spot inside the top 4, which rewards a twice-to-beat quarterfinals incentive, when it faces NorthPort at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Sunday, November 10. – Rappler.com
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.