RAIN or Shine will finally unveil no. 3 rookie pick Raymond Almazan when the E-Painters shoot for their second straight win against the Meralco Bolts in the PLDT myDSL-Philippine Cup on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The 6-foot-7 Almazan sat out Rain or Shine’s season-opening game on Sunday, just a day after his Letran Knights bowed to the San Beda Red Lions in the NCAA men’s basketball finals.
But Almazan was hardly needed as the E-Painters clobbered the Alaska Aces, 87-74 in Davao City.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said he’ll be fielding the reigning NCAA MVP but doesn’t expect him to contribute immediately when they play Meralco at 5:45 p.m.
“Yes, Raymond will play on Friday, it’s more like testing the waters for him. But we will not push him that much because he still has to make some adjustments,” Guiao said.
The fiery Rain or Shine mentor said they will try to pounce on Meralco, which at this stage, is still adjusting, given the new players the Bolts acquired during the offseason.
“Maganda rin ang timing for us since tingin ko di pa masyado organized ang Meralco. This would be a good time to play them, though talent-wise, mas malalim ang Meralco bench ngayon,” he added.
The Bolts acquired two-time scoring champion Gary David and big man Rabeh Al-Hussaini during the franchise’s busy offseason manpower buildup.
But Meralco fell short, 80-89 in its season-opening match against sister team Talk ’N Text in Cebu.
“We are continually finding ways to get better,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
“We are more focused on familiarizing ourselves with each other, fine-tuning our offense and strengthening our defense.”
Gregorio expects not just David to carry much of the scoring load, instead, he expects even sophomore forward Cliff Hodge, John Wilson and veterans like Mike Cortez and Jared Dillinger to also hold the fort for the Bolts.