LEFT out of the Philippine men’s basketball team for the Southeast Asian Games, Letran big man Raymund Almazan remains hopeful he’ll still be given the chance to reinforce the squad in Myanmar next month.
The 6-foot-7 Almazan stressed time and again that he wants to cap his amateur career with a NCAA championship and a stint with the national team.
“Di naman kasi lahat ng players eh nakakalaro sa national team. So if ever, sobrang big achievement na sa akin `yung mag-champion at makapaglaro pa sa national team,” Almazan told Spin.ph shortly after leading the Knights back to the NCAA Finals following an 85-58 rout of San Sebastian in Thursday’s Final Four.
Almazan had a near triple-double with 19 points, 23 rebounds, and nine blocks in the 27-point rout. He was later named season MVP and the league's top defensive player.
The impressive performance came on the day the composition of the men’s cage team to the SEA Games was made known.
The lanky Letran center was part of the initial 19-man training pool handpicked by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, but was left out in the final lineup along with RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, and Arnold Van Opstal.
Almazan felt his non-inclusion in the team had something to do with his “floating” status, given the waiting time he had leading to the PBA Annual Rookie Draft held last week.
“Actually, walang problema sa akin `yun kasi alam naman natin, nag-floating `yung status ko dahil nga naglalaro ako sa Letran tapos magpapa-draft ako nun. Pero gusto ko naman talaga maglaro sa national team,” he added.
But in case coach Jong Uichio and the SBP stand firm on its decision not to include Almazan and Co. as a last-minute inclusion to the team, the Letran star said he would focus his attention on the task at hand of leading the Knights to the NCAA championship.