HE doesn’t look the part, but Raymond Almazan is nevertheless living up to being Beau Bega’s unlikely “Extra Rice Inc.” partner at Rain or Shine.
The reed-thin 6-foot-8 big man continued to fill the void left by JR Quiñahan, putting up a solid performance for the Elasto Painters in their 107-93 win over Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup on Friday night.
Almazan registered a double-double of 14 points and 16 boards, on top of two assists, and one block against four turnovers in 31 minutes as a starter, making the E-Painters miss Quiñahan less after trading Belga's longtime 'Extra Rice' partner to GlobalPort for Jay Washington in the offseason.
“Kailangan naming mag-move on eh, so we have to be professional,” Almazan said of Quiñahan’s departure. “Si James (Yap) nga eh, akala natin magre-retire na siya sa Star. Hindi mo akalain na maglalaro siya sa amin.”
His partnership with Belga, though, deserves a new name as Almazan makes, shall we say, far healthier food choices - and a smaller appetite - than his burly partner.
“Hindi ko alam (ang pwede i-tawag), kasi si Beau malakas talaga kumain eh. Magkaiba kami ng appetite eh,” Almazan said with a chuckle. “Kahit ano kinakain nun eh.”
“Pero solid yung katawan nun. Akala mo lang mataba, pero siksik yun, matigas,” he added of Belga, who tallied eight points, five assists, two boards in 22 minutes, aside from dishing off the perfect bounce pass that set up Almazan for a wide-open undergoal stab.
Despite the departure of coach Yeng Guiao, Almazan hardly hardly needed adjustments under new mentor Caloy Garcia, who was his coach in his last year at Letran.
“Komportable ako (kay coach Caloy), pero ganun pa rin sistema namin: pag maganda laro mo, nasa loob ka. Tsaka ayaw mo dumepensa, sa bench dumepensa ka,” Almazan said. “Kung relax ka sa loob, sa bench ka mag-relax.”
“Pero kanina, masyadong marami turnover namin at yung depensa, medyo parang hindi kami nagkakaintindihan, kasi siguro dahil malaki lamang,” he was quick to add. “Pero sabi ni coach Caloy na pag malaki lamang, hindi kami nagre-relax.”
And that’s what Almazan and the rest of the E-Painters hope to fix in their next games.