No turning back on Almazan's bid to join PBA rookie draft
“Kailangan pong magpalaki kasi mabibigat po kabangaan dun… Sonny Thoss, June Mar Fajardo, Beau Belga, saka yung magkapatid na (Ranidel at Yancy) de Ocampo,” says EA Regen center Almazan. Jerome Ascano

NCAA defensive demon Raymond Almazan is the latest amateur star to signify his intention to join the coming PBA rookie draft.

The enigmatic center of Letran told Spin.ph that there’s no turning back on his bid to finally achieve his dream of playing in Asia’s first play-for-pay league.

“Wala na pong urungan, basta’t nag open na po ang PBA ng application, malamang isa po ako sa mag-apply dun,” said Almazan, a wiry 6-foot-7 slotman from Bataan.

Currently playing for EA Regen in the D-League, Almazan hopes to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, Ginebra veteran Kerby Raymundo who has been his mentor since he started playing hoops.

Turning pro this year may not be the best move for Almazan, who may find himself overshadowed in the draft pool by fellow big men Greg Slaughter and Ian Sangalang, who have also signified their intention to turn pro.

But to make himself more appealing for pro teams, Almazan bared that he is doubling up on in training with EA Regen and Letran while doing the work to beef up his wiry frame during off days from practice.

“Pag po walang practice si EA Regen, sumasama ako sa Letran. Pag po parehong wala, weights naman po ako. Kailangan ko pong magpalaki ng katawan,” he said.

“Kailangan pong magpalaki kasi mabibigat po kabanggaan dun… Sonny Thoss, June Mar Fajardo, Beau Belga, saka yung magkapatid na (Ranidel at Yancy) de Ocampo,” Almazan added.

“Saka kahit po sinasabi nila na, ‘Big man ka, mada-draft sigurado yan,’ hindi po ako nagpapakumpiyansa,” Almazan shared. “Andami rin big man na nawala rin agad. Yun ang ayokong mangyari sa akin kaya ako nagsusumikap."

No wonder the Operations Management senior has been playing like a man on a mission lately, averaging in double figures in scoring and rebounding in EA Regenerative Medicine Team Delta’s last three wins.

“Ang laking bagay ng ginagawa ni Raymond sa campaign namin lately, he’s been doing it all,” said EA Regen team manager Atty. Charlie Chua of Almazan’s 18-point, 18.3-rebound average over his last three games.

“Sa sobrang ganda nga ng laro niya, hindi na napupwersa yung isa pa naming key big man,” added Chua of current D-League best player Sangalang, who like Almazan, is backed by team owner Dennis Pineda.

Meanwhile, Pineda has challenged his big man to prove his worth in the crucial stretch of the D-League Foundation cup eliminations.

“Sana magtuloy-tuloy yung magandang laro niya. We want to develop him as a future top big man ng Pilipinas. He’s agile, workhorse and gritty,” said Pineda.

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