RAYMOND Almazan didn’t get an opportunity to play major minutes for Meralco in last season’s PBA Governors’ Cup Finals due to a meniscal tear in his left knee.
The Meralco big man didn’t heal quickly from that injury due to the pandemic, according to coach Norman Black. That was the reason Almazan entered the PBA bubble late and far from top shape.
“People don’t realize that during the pandemic, he really didn’t have a chance to rehabilitate because there was no place to rehabilitate,” said Black. “Everything was closed down. He could only rehabilitate around August, September. He was way behind in his rehabilitation.”
The god thing is, the Bolts are finally getting the most out of Almazan, and it comes at a perfect time as Meralco seeks to get past Barangay Ginebra and advance to the finals.
Almazan scored 11 points and got 11 rebounds on Friday night to help the Bolts score a 95-77 win over the Gin Kings in Game Two. While attention was on Chris Newsome and Allein Maliksi in the win, Black also paid tribute to Almazan for his tireless effort.
“Raymond Almazan probably played his best game of the conference today. He has really come a long way since his knee injury,” said Black.
Almazan was active on the boards as he battled Japeth Aguilar inside the paint. He already had six rebounds in the first half before his offense came around, tallying six points in the second half.
“It’s only now that he is starting to get himself into decent shape,” said Black. "So today was really good for us."