MERALCO coach Norman Black is bracing for the worst after Raymond Almazan suffered a knee injury in Game Three of the PBA Governors’ Cup finals.
Black said he is already preparing to play the entire series without Almazan, who landed awkwardly after going for a lay-up in the first quarter of the Bolts’ 92-84 defeat against Barangay Ginebra in Game Three.
Almazan never returned to the game and was rushed to the hospital at halftime for an MRI.
While he is hoping for the best, Black said he is also preparing for the worst, based on his conversation with Almazan.
“He is having an MRI taken at Makati Med. Let’s hope that’s not the case,” said Black, referring to missing the entire series.
“But when I talked to him at halftime, he couldn’t move his leg. And being a former player myself, that’s never a good sign. I’ll try to be as positive as possible and hopefully, he will be okay. But being a player myself, having a swollen knee at the middle of the championship is not something that you could just bounce back that easily,” said Black.
Black felt the Bolts were demoralized when they heard the news about Almazan, which contributed to their slow start to the third period that led to the pullaway where the Gin Kings opened with a 10-0 run.
“From my viewpoint, we came out of the locker room very flat. We found out at halftime, we would probably would lose Raymond for the rest of the game and probably for the rest of the series. So seemed like the guys were a little bit down and lacked the energy and the intensity going to the third quarter.
“I don’t know for sure how much they were affected by the news but it seemed that it affected them going to the third,” said Black.
The absence of Almazan also contributed to Japeth Aguilar going berserk on both ends when he finished with 23 points and seven blocks.
“Our biggest concern is the fact that when Raymond was not around, you saw what happened with Japeth. Pretty much ran wild out there on the court. What he has done this conference is give us an opportunity to match up the big man of the other teams and without him, we almost had a hole in the middle. We will just try to find a way to camouflage it or try to fix it,” said Black.