June 25, 2024

PBA: Raymond Almazan bounces back with strong offensive game as Meralco takes 2-1 Finals lead vs. San Miguel

PBA: Raymond Almazan bounces back with strong offensive game as Meralco takes 2-1 Finals lead vs. San Miguel
Raymond Almazan puts in the work on both ends of the floor in Meralco's Game 3 win against San Miguel. | Photo (c) RM Chua/One Sports

Raymond Almazan’s primary role is to make things rough for June Mar Fajardo in the ongoing PBA Season 48 Philippine Cup finale between Meralco and San Miguel.

Almazan did that and more on Sunday, June 9, as the Bolts hacked out a 93-89 win over the Beermen to seize a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

While trying to put the cuffs on seven-time Most Valuable Player Fajardo, Almazan also churned out a double-double outing of 17 points and 13 rebounds.

The 6-foot-7 beanpole also had three blocks in almost 25 minutes of play.

Almazan, who was scoreless in Meralco's heartbreaking 94-95 Game 2 loss, said he was simply trying to be aggressive.

“Aggressive talaga ako sa ilalim ngayon. Ayokong mag-settle sa jumpshots ko,” said Almazan.

Indeed, the former Letran stalwart came out strong, opening the match with a layup on his way to tallying eight points in the first quarter where the Bolts posted early eight-point spreads.

 Almazan picked up from where he left off in the fourth period, opening the frame with back-to-back baskets to give Meralco a 75-70 advantage in the back-and-forth contest.

All this while helping limit Fajardo to 12 points on 2-of-5 shooting from the field.

“Sobrang hirap. I think wala talagang makakabantay sa kanya nang 40 minutes. So sabi nila coach sa'ming lahat na bigs, if [we] can play 40 minutes para pagurin si June Mar, 'yun ang trabaho namin,” said Almazan.

Though he fouled out heading into the last 51.9 seconds of the match, Almazan knew he did his part in the Bolts' rousing victory.

That’s something Almazan hopes he can sustain in the coming games as Meralco inches closer to a first-ever championship.

“This series, 'yun (depensa) talaga ang kailangan naming gawin para magkaroon ng better chance,” he said.