Black, Meralco keeping fingers crossed on Almazan injury
MANILA, Philippines – Uncertainty surrounds the return of Raymond Almazan in the PBA Governors' Cup finals series after the wiry big man suffered a suspected left knee strain.
Almazan, 30, hurt his knee following an awkward fall midway through the maiden period of Game 3 and did not see action for the rest of the game as Meralco absorbed an 84-92 defeat to Barangay Ginebra on Sunday, January 12.
The injury dealt a huge blow to the Bolts' title hopes, but coach Norman Black is keeping his fingers crossed that Almazan might return.
"I'll try to be as positive as possible and hopefully he'll be okay," Black said.
Black, though, was quick to acknowledge that Almazan may also be sidelined for the rest of the best-of-seven affair, which the Gin Kings lead 2-1.
"[F]rom being a player myself, having a swollen knee in the middle of a championship series is not something you can just bounce back from that easily," said Black.
Without the 6-foot-8 Almazan anchoring the Meralco defense and helping relieve some of the offensive burden on import Allen Durham, Ginebra took advantage and led by as many as 23 points.
Japeth Aguilar, specifically, thrived with Almazan out as he put up 23 points, 7 blocks, and 4 rebounds.
"Our biggest concern, obviously, is the fact that when Raymond is not around, you saw what happened with Japeth, right? He pretty much ran wild out there on the court," the 11-time PBA coach said.
"What he has done this conference is giving us an opportunity to match up with the big men of the other teams. And without him, we almost got a little bit of a hole in the middle," he added.
"So we just have to try to find a way to camouflage or at least try to fix it."
Almazan has two days to recover before Game 4, which will be staged at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, January 15. – Rappler.com