Almazan embraces 'Rock N Roll' tag, ready to shake up PBA Finals in search for first title
Rain or Shine slotman Raymon Almazan was given the 'Rock N Roll' tag for his resemblance to Filipino rock legend Joey ‘Pepe’ Smith. Jerome Ascano

HE’S earned the moniker ‘Rock ‘N Roll,’ but big man Raymond Almazan really doesn’t mind the ribbing.

Truth be told, he even welcomes it.

The lanky Rain or Shine center admitted he’s long been aware of the story behind the moniker, which had nothing to do with the way he plays inside the court but more on his resemblance to Filipino rock legend Joey ‘Pepe’ Smith.

“Kung saan magiging masaya ang fans dun tayo,” said Almazan, who graced the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals press conference on Thursday at the PBA Café along with his fellow Rain or Shine players and counterparts from Alaska.

Asked if he gets angry whenever opposing fans – and even the live broadcast of the game – would repeatedly tease him during games, the former Letran stalwart admitted it hardly gets under his skin.

“Hindi naman, kasi fans ang bumubuhay sa atin. At tsaka kung hindi naman dahil sa mga fans wala namang PBA siguro,” he stressed.

Personally, he has yet to meet the vocalist and lead guitarist of the great Pinoy rock band Juan Dela Cruz, but shared one funny incident Rain or Shine teammate Gabe Norwood had with the veteran musician, who also dabbles in acting once in a while.

“Na meet niya minsan sa Rockwell, naglalakad sa daan. Tapos nagpa-picture sila ni Gabe,” a smiling Almazan recalled. “Then, pinost niya sa Viber group namin (at ang caption), ‘Raymond, I (finally) found your father.’

Given the chance, he also wants to meet Smith personally, saying ‘siguro mas maganda one of these days.’

The fourth-year big man however, plans to do some ‘Rock N’ Roll’ in the Elasto Painters’ best-of-seven title duel with the Aces, especially after going down with a sprained ankle in the semifinals of the last Philippine Cup against San Miguel.

“Mas magiging aggressive ako ngayon lalo last conference di aka nakalaro sa semis kaya medyo frustrated ako,” Almazan said, adding he could have helped Rain or Shine in his own little way get past San Miguel in the semifinals of the all-Filipino conference.

Almazan is in the finals for the fourth time, ending up title-less in the three times he suited up in a championship series with the Elasto Painters. Hopefully, the string of failed campaigns will finally be over for him and the franchise two weeks from now.

“Sana nga makuha na namin,” he said. “Although alam ko rin naman hindi papayag ang Alaska at alam ko hindi magiging madali yun.”


Start ‘Rock ‘N Rollin’ then.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos