Almazan says old NCAA rival Calvin Abueva much tougher to play: 'Mas nag-iisip na s'ya ngayon'
“Dati kasi raratratan ka lang ni Calvin (Abueva), pero ngayon mas nag-i-isip na siya," says Raymund Almazan of his former NCAA rival. Jerome Ascano

RAIN or Shine big man Raymond Almazan is celebrating the New Year with Alaska forward Calvin Abueva in his mind.

The undersized Aces forward has been outplaying Almazan in the painted area, allowing Alaska to enjoy a plus-12 in rebounds per game in their ongoing PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.

“Kung gaano ka ka-kundisyon, mas dapat doblehin mo pa effort mo pag si Calvin ang kalaban,” Almazan told while recharging during the two-day break to observe the New Year festivities.

The 6-foot-7 Almazan enjoys a five-and-a-half inch height advantage against Abueva, but that hardly matters for the Alaska wingman, who has averaged 16.8 points and 10.6 rebounds in the series.

The Rain or Shine slotman averages 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in the series, but he explained that rebounding is not just the job of one player.

“Di lang sa akin 'yung (responsibility) ng rebounding, dahil buong team yung dapat mag-effort,” explained the one-time NCAA MVP out of Letran.

Almazan noted that Abueva, whom he has faced numerous times in the NCAA, has improved a lot in terms of playing under a systematic type of offense and defense.

“Dati kasi raratratan ka lang ni Calvin, pero ngayon mas nag-iisip na siya," Almazan said.

Nonetheless, Almazan believes the Elasto Painters have the tools to beat the Aces, considering they were able to erect double-digit leads against Alaska despite their poor rebounding numbers.

“Isipin mo, tinatambakan namin sila nang natatalo kami sa rebounds, what more kung manalo pa kami sa rebounds? Eh sinasabi nga ni coach sa amin, di naman kailangan maging athletic ka lang, kailangan din may effort, yung mag-box out ka para makuha mo yung rebound,” he added.

With Game Six set to be played on January 4, Almazan’s goal is to help Rain or Shine get the win and force a deciding match for a spot in finals.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava