LETRAN stalwart Raymund Almazan is willing to play for the Philippine team in the 27th Southeast Asian Games as long as it won’t stand in the way of his plan to join the PBA Annual Rookie Draft this November.
The 6-foot-7 Almazan, the leading MVP contender in Season 89 of the NCAA, said playing for flag and country is a lifelong dream and gives him the opportunity to learn from college peers and basketball idol Marcus Douthit.
But at the same time, he already wants to play in Asia’s first ever pro league and has already submitted his application for the Draft set November 3.
“Dati kasi naririnig ko lang na isasama nga daw ang pangalan ko sa national team. Eh masaya ako siyempre kasi gusto ko ring maglaro sa Philippine team,” Almazan relayed to Spin.ph, shortly after the Knights’ afternoon practice on Wednesday.
“Saka siyempre, maganda ring matuto ako sa ibang mga players at kay Marcus na idol ko.”
“Pero gusto ko na rin kasing maglaro sa PBA. Lalaro naman ako sa national team huwag lang sanang mapigilan `yung pagpa-draft ko,” he added.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) on Tuesday bared it will ask the PBA to allow rookie draftees who will be named to the national team to suit up in the SEA Games in Myanmar.
“Ang plano namin ay makiusap sa PBA na kung puwede `yung mga rookie draftees ay maipahiram sa SEA Games kung puwede,” said SBP executive director Sonny Barrios in the weekly PSA Forum.
“Ewan ko kung pinangungunahan ko ang PBA, pero we still have to forward our request to them.”
Told about it, Almazan said he’s all for the set-up.
“Puwede ako maglaro kung ganun (PBA allowing rookie draftees to play in the SEA Games),” said the 25-year-old big man.
The national team to be mentored by Jong Uichico, is set to hold its first practice on October 14 where he’s hopeful the 19 players invited to form the national pool will show up.
So far, Douthit and members of the Gilas cadet pool namely Jake Pascual, Ronald Pascual, Garbo Lanete, Kevin Louie Alas, RR Garcia, and Matt Granuelas are shoo-ins for the squad, while given invitations through their respective coaches were Kiefer Ravena, reigning UAAP MVP Terrence Romeo, Chris Newsome, Mark Belo, Roy Sumang, Arnold Van Opstal, Prince Caperal, Kevin Ferrer, and Jericho Cruz.
Also invited were Fil-Italian guard Chris Banchero, and two-time UAAP MVP Bobby Ray Parks.