Dream can wait for Raymond Almazan after failure to get green light to join Gilas
Raymond Almazan says it has always been his dream to play for the national team. Jerome Ascano

IT’S every player’s dream that will have to wait for Raymond Almazan – in the right place and at the right time.

Although a bit disappointed, the Rain or Shine big man has is not losing hope of someday becoming part of Gilas Pilipinas and represent the country in major international tournaments.

Last week, national team coach Tab Baldwin announced Gilas failed to get the nod of Rain or Shine management to release the 26-year-old center to the training pool preparing for the Olympic qualifier in Manila.

Nonetheless, Baldwin expressed how grateful he was to the Elasto Painters hierarchy, and at the same time, said the door is always open for Almazan should he finally get the chance to wear the national colors.

Almazan also understands the predicament of his mother ballclub, which is among the few teams which released more than two players to the national pool, namely Paul Lee, Gabe Norwood, and Jeff Chan.

“May mga good reasons naman kung bakit hindi ako pinayagan. Siguro tama nga lang na tatlong players lang ang pinahiram nila (Rain or Shine) kasi naghahabol kami sa Commissioner’s Cup, tapos hindi pa ako healthy,” said Almazan, who is still recovering from the severe ankle injury he suffered during the semifinals of the last PBA Philippine Cup.

[See Almazan on Baldwin invitation to join Gilas: 'Pag humindi ka, tanga ka talaga']

But Almazan admitted feeling sad for failing to take advantage of the rare opportunity, recalling how thrilled he was when Baldwin personally approached him one night shortly after the all-Filipino playoff game between Rain or Shine and Tropang TNT and invited him to become part of Gilas.

“Nakakalungkot lang talaga dahil akala ko ito na yung chance ko,” he said.

The native of Orion, Bataan, however, is keeping his faith, expressing his gratitude to Baldwin for noticing his talent as a player.

“Siguro tama si coach Tab na my time will come. Siguro hindi pa ngayon ang panahon,” said the former NCAA MVP out of Letran. “Yung sinabi niyang your time will come, marami pang chance na darating, hindi lang 'yung ngayon.”

He added the failure to join Gilas for the coming Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila will further inspire him to play even better.

“Motivation sa akin 'yun,” he said. “Masama nga lang ako sa Gilas pool sobrang saya ko na, e.”

[See No Gilas stint for Almazan, but Baldwin believes his time will come]


At the moment, Almazan said all he could give Gilas Pilipinas is his morale support – just like the rest of the basketball-loving Filipinos – as it diligently prepares for the July 5-10 qualifier at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Basta I just wish na lang ng best 'yung Gilas 4.0. Sana makapasok sila (sa Olympics),” he said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos