SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Slowly but surely, Raymond Almazan has been showing great signs of recovery from the major injury he suffered earlier this year.
Almazan registered his best game yet in the bubble, unloading a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of play as Meralco bounced back with a 95-93 win over Terrafirma on Chris Newsome’s buzzer-beater on Sunday at the AUF Arena.
The lanky big man suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee that sidelined him in the Bolts’ finals rematch against the Ginebra Kings in the Governor’s Cup, which the latter won with a 4-1 series scoreline.
Almazan admitted he’s still at 80-percent in terms of his condition.
“Sa totoo lang, kinakapa ko pa ‘yung injury ko sa laro. Starting ‘yung season na ‘to talaga wala akong practice. ‘Di ako nakakasabay sa kanila,” he said.
The 31-year-old center bared that he has been putting in extra work since entering the bubble to regain his rhythm.
And that has been paying dividends for the former Gilas Pilipinas standout as he only averaged 7.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in 17.25 minutes of action in his past eight games.
“Unti-unti nakukuha ko na, ” said Almazan. “So, dahan-dahan lang, step-by-step. Ngayon maganda ‘yung laro ko. Kailangan rest muna.”
Coach Norman Black said in a previous interview that Almazan will be a big factor should Meralco win or at least have a shot at their first Philippine Cup title.
“He’s gonna be that guy that if we’re gonna win a championship or have a chance of winning a championship, he’s gonna be right in the middle,” said the grand slam-winning mentor then.
The ex-Letran star, though, wants to focus on the present. “Sa totoo lang, ‘di ko pa iniisip ‘yan kasi five years nang ‘di nakakapasok sa playoffs sa All-Filipino ang team. ‘Yun muna ang goal namin ngayon, makapasok kami, mag-top four kami, twice-to-beat then tatrabahuhin namin mula doon.”
But if the Bolts make it to the finals, Almazan already has an opposing team in mind.
“Sana Ginebra ulit,” he said with a laugh.