Almazan challenged to prove he deserves place alongside Gilas Big 3 of Blatche, Fajardo, Aguilar
Raymond Almazan says he's up for the challenge. Jerome Ascano

WITH June Mar Fajardo, Andray Blatche, and Japeth Aguilar shoo-ins for spots in the Gilas Pilipinas side for the 2017 Seaba Cup, head coach Chot Reyes has issued a challenge to Raymond Almazan and the other younger big men in the 25-man pool.

"Their challenge is to break through that Big Three and find their role in the team," said Reyes after the national team's brief practice on Wednesday at the Meralco Gym.

Reyes has called out young slotmen like Raymond Almazan and Norbert Torres to raise their game and prove that they deserve place alongside Fajardo and Co. in the team that will go to battle from May 12 to 18 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"Problema nila yung tatlo, they're not too old (Fajardo and Co.). Di pa rin matanda so they (young big men) really have their work cut out for them," he said.

"They really have to show us they are deserving of a spot in this team."

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With the team employing a dribble drive offense, Reyes said he wants to see more from his big men, especially from the three-point area.

"We know Troy (Rosario) can hit that, we're challenging Raymond and Norbert to consistenly do that. Hopefully we'll get there," he said.

Almazan is embracing the challenge.

It's one facet of his game he has been trying to improve on since entering the pros, and he knows it's a weapon he can use come May, when the country defends its title in the biennial meet.

"It's a big challenge for me kasi yun yung iniimprove ko since sumali ako ng PBA," he said.

"Nangyayari naman yun every practice so ba't ka matatakot na tumira sa labas kung alam mong pina-practice mo every day? Pinapractice ko naman siya every day, kaya yung kumpiyansa tumira sa labas mataas.

"Lalo na ngayon, sa Fiba World Cup, sa Seaba, kailangan yung mga big man may shooting eh."

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros