RAYMOND Almazan is ready to face the huge task awaiting him when Team Pilipinas opens its second-round campaign in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
The mission: Keep a 7-foot-2 defensive assignment that goes by the name Hamed Haddadi.
With seven-foot teammate Greg Slaughter still uncertain to suit up with an ankle injury, Almazan could end up taking over the job of guarding Haddadi at the post.
Although he’s ready, the lanky Rain or Shine center knows it won’t be easy.
“Oo mabigat (na bantayan). Nakikita ko sa tape at scouting reports namin,” he said. “So kailangan pagdating doon mag-extra buhat at mag-extra kain.”
Although he had previous stints with the national team, it will be the first time Almazan will be facing Haddadi and Iran.
And he describes the former NBA player as big presence underneath who possess great basketball skills.
“So hopefully, maganda yung maipakita ko sa laro,” said Almazan.
The 29-year-old native of Orion, Bataan disclosed coach Yeng Guiao has already ordered him and the rest of the team’s bigs including JP Erram, Beau Belga, Ian Sangalang, Asi Taulava, and if ever he’ll be named as naturalized player, Christian Standhardinger to be prepared in the event the 30-year-old Slaughter won’t be available for the game to be played on Thursday night.
“If ever di makalaro si Greg, yung mga bigs mga-ready kayo,” was Guiao’s timely reminder to them.
“it’s not sure kung 100 percent na si Greg pag punta namin doon,” added Almazan. “So siyempre hindi naman natin pipilitin yung tao kung hindi niya pa kaya. Marami pa namang games yan.”