‘Happy and excited’ Almazan treasuring Gilas experience

Raymond Almazan SEABA 2017

Raymond Almazan is treasuring the experiencing of playing for Gilas Pilipinas.

The Rain or Shine forward will be making his maiden stint for the national basketball team when the Philippines takes on Myanmar in the opener of the 2017 SEABA Championships here in Manila, and Almazan said he is “happy and excited” to be part of the roster.

“One of my dreams makapaglaro sa bayan natin, i-represent yung country natin. Ang mahalaga dito yung nasa harap ng jersey mo eh,” Almazan said.

Raymond Almazan - Gilas Pilipinas

“Yun, very happy and excited talaga ako to play and put everything sa laro. Once in a lifetime lang to eh. Hindi naman lagi nasa Gilas ka. Make the most out of it dapat.”

The 6-foot-8 forward never had the chance to represent the country before being selected by head coach Chot Reyes to the SEABA Final 12. He had close shots at it, particularly in 2016 when then Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin recruited him to the team although the Elasto Painters at that time already had Paul Lee, Jeff Chan, and Gabe Norwood loaned to the national team.

Almazan did train with those guys, but now being part of the competition himself, the 27-year-old Bataan native said the experience is completely different, especially being teammates with various big men he competed against in the PBA.

“At the same time, na-starstruck ka at happy ka eh. Syempre mga big name yun eh, sina (June Mar) Fajardo, Japeth (Aguilar). Lahat sila, magkakalaban kami sa liga eh. Tsaka ako lang ang from Rain or Shine dito eh tsaka si Mike (Tolomia),” Almazan shared.

“Tine-treasure ko yun kasi hindi naman buong taon magkakasama kami eh. Sabihin mong ngayon mag-i-start yung SEABA sa Friday, hanggang May 18 lang yan eh. Maganda, nakakabuo kami ng team chemistry at bonding.”

Almazan also said practicing with the best players in the country has helped push his game to a whole new level.

“Madami akong natututunan lalo na kay Andray (Blatche). Sobrang experienced niya. NBA caliber talaga siya. Kailangan ma-adopt natin yung ganung nature eh para makasabay talaga tayo sa ibang bansa. Kay Calvin (Abueva) nga napu-push ako eh, kay Andray pa?,” he said.

Raymond Almazan

Now, it is a matter of being ready for the SEABA Championships in order to get the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and 2020 Tokyo Olympics bid rolling.

“Siguro mga 90 percent (ready) na kasi matagal na rin kami nagpa-practice eh. Simula nung nag-cut sa final 12, talagang nagfocus kami sa depensa. Although may mga lapses, dadating din naman tayo dyan eh. Sabi nga ni coach Chot, this will be a long tournament. Pero kailangan muna natin magchampion sa SEABA,” Almazan said.

Written by Levi Verora Jr
Photos by Glenn Michael Tan





2 Responses to ‘Happy and excited’ Almazan treasuring Gilas experience

  1. Boyet Salsazar says:

    Malaki ang paghanga namin ‘syo pusong puso ang pinakikita mo sa amin. Laban Piliinas.

  2. AUGUST FERNANDO says:

    Almazan, di kita idol sa PBA like Abueva and Romeo. Pero I like your honesty, integrity and dedication to our cause. Keep it up, kid. JUst do not let anything go to your head. Ayun idol ka na ng ilang Malaysian cagers. Ansarpa ng feeling nun. Hinhangaan ka ng kalaban! Been there exeprienced that, altho only in sandlot and inter-agency tournaments. KEEP IT UP, ALMAZAN!

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