GIVEN time, injured Meralco veteran Kerby Raymundo believes Bolts coach Ryan Gregorio can put the pieces together for a PBA champion team.
The present Meralco team, Raymundo said, reminds him of their old Purefoods team.
“Nabubuo na ni coach Ryan yung recipe niya eh. Na-develop na niya si John Wilson na parang Peter June Simon, si Gary (David) ang parang James Yap niya, tapos si (Cliff) Hodge ang Marc Pingris,” said Raymundo, who was part of Gregorio’s three champion teams at Purefoods.
And who is the present-day Kerby Raymundo of Gregorio, the veteran big man was asked.
"Si Rabeh (Al-Hussaini)," the 32-year-old said without batting an eyelash. “Nakikita ko ang sarili ko dati kay Rabeh eh. Pati kung paano siya i-groom at hasain ni coach Ryan."
“Si coach Ryan kasi, magaling yan mag-develop ng players. Gusto niya sa player 'yung maipalabas mo yung best mo. Gusto niya makita na umaangat ka. Yun ang ginagawa niya ngayon kay Rabeh,” he added.
Raymundo said part of the reason Meralco took in two-time MVP Danny Ildefonso was to speed up the development of Al-Hussaini, who is set to get personal lessons from the former Petron star.
“Malaki ang maitutulong ni Danny I kay Rabeh. Ngayon nga lang, makikita mo na potensyal niya. Kais nakalaro ko na dati 'yan. Ang lakas nung batang yun,” he recalled.
“Talagang naniniwala ako na si Rabeh kaya niyang maging go-to guy na big man. Makinig lang siya kay pareng Danny at kay coach. Good soldier lang, walang complaint, remain focused,” he added.
Raymundo said it was plain bad luck and injuries that had stymied Meralco's rise under Gregorio.
“Yun naman ang problema ng Meralco eh. Hindi makabwelo kasi pinuputakte ng injuries. Like ngayon, ako at si Mike (Cortez), hindi pa makalaro,” he said.
“Last time, nasa semis na sila, kaso kinapos, kasi na-injure yung import nila. Yun pa nga ang masakit eh. Ang dalas ma-injure ng imports ng Meralco,” Raymundo said while enumerating the names of Champ Oguchi, Mario West and Eric Dawson as those injured while in the thick of the team’s campaign.
Raymundo believes it will not take long before his coach wins another championship.
“Siguro within the next two years, o three years. Hopefully, mag-champion na kami at kasama niya ako,” Raymundo said. “Tiwala ako na mangyayari yun. Kasi kilala ko si coach Ryan."