Fit-again Almazan eager to start afresh, help Rain or Shine relive lost glory
Raymond Almazan is eager to put his troubles behind him. Jerome Ascano

YENG Guiao feels he has found his kind of import in Arnett Moultrie, who has an inside-outside game that makes him fit for NLEX.  

And the Road Warriors face a Rain or Shine squad that’s abundant in local big men who have the same kind of game.

One of those who Guiao nurtured, Raymond Almazan, continues to prove that he’s one the PBA’s best stretch big men as he faces his former coach and the Road Warriors in their Commissioner’s Cup match on Wednesday night in Antipolo.

Coming off a Philippine Cup where he had a disagreement with current coach Caloy Garcia over his lackluster play, spawning trade rumors, Almazan showed his commitment to the E-Painters by starting the midseason tournament with back-to-back double-digit scoring performances.

The 6-foot-8 beanpole showed his full potential last Sunday when he registered 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including two triples, eight boards, two blocks, and one assist in 27 minutes as a starter in the E-Painters’ 108-89 win over Ginebra.  

“Oo, oo. Siguro (statement game yun), despite sa mga issues tsaka yung nangyari last conference. Sobrang daming nangyari,” Almazan admitted. “Sana magtuloy-tuloy na. Kasi tina-trabaho ko naman. Nothing to say about my effort naman siguro.”

“Kung pangit laro, may other guys from the bench na mag-step up,” the 28-year-old cager added. “Tsaka kita nyo naman yung team namin ngayon. Ang lalaki namin. Hindi mo alam kung sino gagamitin.”

Almazan is also back in top shape after a hand injury slowed him down in the all-Filipino conference.

“Last conference, kababalik ko lang tapos mai-injury na naman ako. kahit mga minor injuries, mahirap pa rin eh. Sana magtuloy-tuloy na, injury-free,” the Gilas Pilipinas center and former NCAA MVP out of Letran said. 

“Sobrang focused ako ngayon,” he added. “Gusto ko maganda laro ko this season para matulungan ko yung team.”

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“Tsaka matagal na kaming di nagfa-finals,” he continued. “Nami-miss ko na yung spirit ng Finals eh. So semis pala muna bago mag-finals. Sobrang na-miss ko na yung ganoong pakiramdam.” 

The E-Painters last reached the finals in the 2016 Commissioner’s when they beat Alaska in six games to capture a second championship in franchise history.

With a towering lineup anchored on burly import Reggie Johnson who has led them to a 2-0 start, the E-Painters have a shot at another making a return trip two editions of the midseason tournament later.

But Almazan refused to look far ahead.

“Mahirap pa magsalita eh, marami kaming gantong senaryo eh,” the pride of Orion, Bataan said. “Minsan may three-zero kami. Tapos middle of the season, alam mo yun, medyo nagiging down.”

“Pero every game ngayon, pagiigihan namin sa mga game plan namin and maututo kami sa mga mistakes namin,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos