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    Almazan banking on familiarity with Blatche in forming PH team frontline tandem

    Feb 15, 2019
    Raymond Almazan and Jammer Jamito battle for position.
    PHOTO: jerome ascaño

    PROBLEMS beyond his control forced Raymond Almazan to attend only one of the three full practices Team Pilipinas had with naturalized center Andray Blatche in tow.

    Despite those hindrances, he believes that the 32-year-old NBA veteran's skills outweigh the lack of preparation time as the national team prepares for this crucial sixth window in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.

    "Siguro yung amount of time, maliit. Pero yung familiarity namin sa isa't isa, hindi naman bago," he said.

    Almazan missed the session last Tuesday due to flu, as well as the Thursday practice after renewing his license with the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).

    The Bataan-born slotman, though, was present for Blatche's first shootaround back in Feb. 2, as well as the first Monday training with Gilas Pilipinas back in Feb. 4, before suiting up in the tune-up game against Meralco on Friday.

    That's why for the former NCAA MVP, he's confident that he'll easily find his groove once he's on the court once again with Blatche.

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    "Alam ko naman kung paano siya basahin sa laro. Naging teammate ko na rin siya at hindi naman ganoong kahirap mag-adjust na kasama siya. NBA player yun eh at alam nating magaling talaga siya," he said as the two have previously teamed up in the first round of the Asian qualifiers in Gilas Pilipinas' second window defeat to Iran in Tehran.

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    The Philippines is currently in a precarious situation with its 5-5 win-loss card in Group F, as it needs to sweep the remaining games, both on the road, against Qatar on Feb. 21 and versus Kazakhstan on Feb. 24 to be able to have the chance to advance to the World Cup in China in August.

    "Yung mindset naming lahat, para sa game na. Tingin ko naman nasa kundisyon si Andray ngayon. Focused talaga siya na manalo tayo at kami rin, focused na kami," said Almazan.

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    Raymond Almazan and Jammer Jamito battle for position.
    PHOTO: jerome ascaño
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