With Gilas dream realized, Almazan a motivated man in strong debut after three-month injury layoff
Raymond Almazan said the three-day Gilas camp did wonders for his confidence and it showed in his strong Commissioner's Cup debut. Jerome Ascano

RAYMOND Almazan came back from a calf injury that got him out for most of the PBA Philippine Cup better than ever.

And the Rain or Shine big man credits not just the rest for an explosive Commissioner’s Cup but also the confidence boost he got from realizing a life-long dream of suiting up for Gilas Pilipinas. 

Almazan returned from a three-day Gilas training camp a 'changed man' as he's already one step closer to his dream of representing his country. That change definitely showed in his first game for Rain or Shine in the midseason tournament after an injury-shortened all-Filipino stint. 

The former Letran star looked as motivated as ever, scoring 18 points in 21 minutes, in their 113-105 victory over coach Yeng Guiao's NLEX Road Warriors. 

"Malaking bagay talaga yun sakin," Almazan said of the training camp.

"Hindi lang bilang player, bilang isang tao rin. Yung pananaw ko sa buhay nag-iba rin talaga," he added. 

The 6'7 center bared that the mini-camp in Tagaytay was a step in the right direction for Gilas, especially with many first-timers in the squad. 

More than getting the chance to shape up, Almazan said that the trip built team camaraderie. 

"Training camp namin twice-a-day kami. Di naman kami pumunta dun na parang sa ano (practice) lang," said the four-year slotman.

"Nag-bonding din kami dun, nabuo kami as a team, we got to know each other," he added. 

Now, it's all a matter of getting his footing back after being shelved for more than three months. 

"Fully healed naman na ako. Yung conditioning ko na lang tiyaka yung timing wala pa. Medyo wala pa mga 75-80 percent," said Almazan.

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