WHILE Raymond Almazan has taken a step into the pros and has been welcomed by his new teammates at Rain or Shine, the lanky center is keeping in mind that he still has some work left to do with Letran before finally moving on.
Letran enters the Final Four of the NCAA as one of the favorites, and the 6-foot-7 Almazan hopes to inspire his teammates as they make one last push for the title just before he joins Rain or Shine in the PBA.
“Oo naman mas gagalingan ko pa sa NCAA kasi kumpyansa na siguro,” said the soft-spoken Almazan, a top favorite to bag the NCAA Most Valuable Player plum.
The NCAA Final Four is set to begin on November 7, but the pairings remain unconfirmed with the league still undecided on issues surrounding an alleged violation by a San Beda player who is claimed to have seen action in a different league during the NCAA season.
Almazan was picked third overall in the PBA rookie draft on Sunday and is expected to focus on his pro debut in the coming Philippine Cup but stressed he still has some unfinished business at Letran.
“Siguro parang mga tinitingala na rin ako ng ibang teammates ko. Parang kuya na nila ako so kailangang galingan kasi parang example na ako sa kanila,” he added.
Almazan said he couldn’t hide his excitement after finally achieving his dream of playing in the PBA.
“Wala na ako masabi. Overwhelming yung kaba at yung halong excitement kasi nag-pay off 'yung mga pinaghirapan ko this year, lalo na yung mga nakaraang taon siguro lumabas na ngayon sa drafting,” said a beaming Letran slotman.
Almazan knows expectations are high for him to deliver immediately, given the short frontline of Rain or Shine. But he quickly adds that he expects his PBA transition to be smooth since Letran coach Caloy Garcia has adopted Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao’s system.
“Para sa akin, madadalian ako kasi sistema ni coach Caloy parang sistema rin ni coach Yeng so hindi rin ako mahihirapan mag-adjust,” explained the 24-year-old second cousin of Meralco Bolts forward Kerby Raymundo.
Alamazan says he is also glad he won’t have to contend with the heavyweight Beau Belga, whom he said, “welcomed” him with his physical play during one of their practices.
“Sobrang tinira ako agad ni Beau, welcome daw,” said Almazan with a laugh. “Masaya sila, very talkative.”