RAYMOND Almazan played his best game in a Gilas Pilipinas uniform on Wednesday night, making the most out of the opportunity while Andray Blatche takes a breather.
The lanky back-up center had 17 points and six rebounds as he stepped up with naturalized player Blatche reduced into a spectator in the national team’s 107-52 whipping of Vietnam in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Almazan was a perfect 7-of-7 from the field and nailed a long three-pointer from the top of the key as he made himself active on offense on this night when Reyes opted to rest a hurting Blatche and keep him fresh for the final game against Indonesia on Thursday.
Both the Filipinos and Indons are unbeaten in five games heading to their title match at 7 p.m.
“I’m just doing my job inside. Just make the most of it na ginagamit ka, eh di ibigay mo yung best mo,” said Almazan, who played for 20 minutes. “Basta pag ginamit ka, just give your best.”
Aware that Blatche wouldn’t be fielded in, Almazan made sure he put in even just half of what the former NBA player has been conributing to the team.
“Ang sa amin para makapahinga si Andray, kailangan layuan na namin (ang Vietnam). Para makapag-pahinga rin kaming lahat,” said the Rain or Shine center.
“Mabigat kasi yung kalaban natin (bukas).We have to sleep early and then rest our body.”
Even with Blatche expected to be back in the rotation during the final game of the tournament, Almazan said he remains ready in case Reyes decided to tap him again.
“Kailangan every game ready ka, anytime puwedeng bunutin ka,” stressed the former NCAA MVP from Letran. “Kailangan naka-mindset ka na gagamitin ka ni coach kahit hindi ka gamitin, Dapat ganun lagi ang mentality mo.”