FOR Raymond Almazan, nothing can keep him from playing his last game for Letran on Saturday when the Knights battle San Beda for the NCAA men’s basketball championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Although he didn’t practice on Friday to rest his left ankle sprain, the senior Knights slotman assured he will be ready in the deciding Game Three when the Knights gun for their first title in eight years.
“Wala ng sakit sakit bukas,” Almazan beamed after showing Spin.ph his swollen ankle he sustained early in the first quarter of their 79-74 Game Two victory over the Red Lions.
The newly crowned MVP played through the pain last Thursday and, worse, later suffered from cramps when the Knights were protecting their precarious lead in the endgame.
“Pero deretso pa rin laro. Kasi pag tumigil ako, hindi ko na mababalik ‘tong laro ko,” said the 24-year-old Almazan, whose perseverance paid off as the Knights arranged a do-or-die game.
“Kung hindi lang ako nag-cramps, hindi ako lalabas,” said the pride of Bataan, who felt his legs cramping after getting fouled with 20.1 seconds left with the Lions in the penalty.
“Pero may tiwala ako sa teammate ko na mag-shoot ng free throw,” he added, referring to rookie guard Rey Nambatac, who came in and took the free throws for his injured teammate, splitting them to give Letran a 77-71 lead.
“Sabi ko ibibigay ko na lang sayo kasi mag-suffer yung buong team pag nasa loob pa ako eh. Ganun ka-laki ang trust ko sa teammates ko. Kaya bukas asahan niyo na ibibigay talaga namin lahat.”
Almazan said he’s not the only one nursing an injury with star point guard Mark Cruz also recovering from a swollen thumb in his right shooting hand.
“Kahit yung iba sa amin, maraming nararamdamang masakit, pero hindi lang nagsasabi. Alam mo kung bakit? Kasi wala na kaming pakialam eh, kahit mamatay na kami sa loob ng court.”