FOR someone used to playing Rain or Shine’s free-flowing style, Raymond Almazan admitted initially having misgivings about playing for coach Norman Black at Meralco.
He didn't see himself thriving under Black’s structured game.
Almazan remembered telling his dilemma to Barangay Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar during their stint with Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup.
“Ito talaga sinabi ko kay Japeth sa World Cup na dati ayaw kong maging coach si coach Norman kasi sobrang strategic, tapos parang hindi ako makakasunod,” said the Meralco big man.
“Pero kapag andun ka na, kailangan mong matutunan yung proseso kasi trabaho natin ito. We’re all professionals. Ginagawa natin ito para sa pamilya natin, ginagawa natin ito para sa team natin.”
The 30-year-old Almazan played his first six seasons with Rain or Shine playing for Yeng Guiao and later, with Caloy Garcia, his former college coach at Letran.
He won a championship with the Elasto Painters during the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup, before being traded to Meralco in 2019 for a pair of two future first-round picks.
But it didn’t take long for Almazan to warm up to Black as he became the Bolts’ focal player at the frontcourt.
He eventually helped Meralco make the finals of last year’s Governors Cup in his first full conference with the team, only to lose against Barangay Ginebra in the best-of-seven title series.
Now he can’t wait to fully recover from an off-season knee surgery and be back playing again for the Bolts and of course, coach Norman.
“Si coach Norman nakaka-miss rin kasi tahimik lang sa practice, relax lang talaga,” Almazan said of the champion mentor.