Rain or Shine’s Almazan embraces role as Gilas practice player

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06:51 PM May 29th, 2016

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By: Randolph B. Leongson, May 29th, 2016 06:51 PM
Rain or Shine center Raymond Almazan, left, talks to Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin during national team training on Sunday, May 29, 2016, at Meralco Gym in Pasig City. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

Rain or Shine center Raymond Almazan, left, talks to Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin during national team training on Sunday, May 29, 2016, at Meralco Gym in Pasig City. Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

His stay is just temporary and he won’t even make it to the final 12, but for Raymond Almazan, donning the Gilas Pilipinas jersey feels like nothing he ever felt before.

“Siyempre sobrang happy,” Almazan, the Rain or Shine center, said on Sunday at Meralco Gym. “Wala akong mapaglagyan ng saya ko kahit na alam ko na hindi ako masasama sa final lineup. Masayang masaya ako. Wala akong pinagsisisihan. Nagpunta ako sa practice para makatulong. Kasi once in a lifetime lang ito eh. Di mo naman mababalik yung time na gusto ka nilang kunin.”

With Gilas lacking in manpower, Almazan is the latest able body to join the team’s practice sessions, filling the gaps in the frontcourt as center June Mar Fajardo slowly works his way back to full health.

And his emotions could not be tamed, as the former Letran big man is overwhelmed with the opportunity to help in the national team’s buildup for the Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament in July.

“Sabi ko sa asawa ko, pupunta ako kahit anong mangyari. Tsaka sa mga previous interview ko naman, sabi ko anytime na kailangan ako ng team, hindi talaga ako magdadalawang isip. Sabi ko, pag humindi ka para kang tanga kasi minsan ka lang maaanyayahan sa national team. At least, makatulong lang kahit papaano, masaya na ako doon,” he said.

Almazan knows that even though his stint will be short, it will still be nothing but beneficial to his career.

“Para sa akin din ito eh, para maka-build ako ng more confidence at skills. Para sa akin din ito so bakit ako tatamarin? Kahit malayo pa yung ensayo namin sa Rain or Shine, walang problema,” said Almazan, who played a key role in helping the Elasto Painters win their second title in franchise history.

Almazan also sees this as one step closer to representing the country in international tournaments, a dream of his ever since childhood.

“Bakit ako manghihinayang eh para sa bayan yun eh? Kahit nung elementary player pa lang ako na hindi pa ako masyadong nagagamit, gusto ko talagang sumali sa mga ganyan para ma-represent ko yung school ko, pero hindi ako nabibigyan ng chance. Ngayon, binibigyan ka na ng chance, so kailangang i-grab na,” he said.

“Minsan lang ito eh. Di mo na mababalik yung panahon eh. Kahit sabihin nilang practice player ako, at least nakakatulong ako sa team. Malay mo di ba, ma-recognize ka ng ibang tao dahil dito. ‘Yan si Raymond, ganito ganyan. Kahit ganyan yan, nakakatulong sa team.’ Masarap na sa akin yun,” Almazan added. “Siyempre dream ko na makapaglaro sa Gilas, pero darating din yung time na yun. Pinapaubaya ko na lang sa Diyos yun kasi nagtatrabaho naman siguro ako. In God’s perfect time siguro bibigay niya sa akin yun.”

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