The beleaguered Gilas Pilipinas side will get the much-needed help starting Sunday as Rain or Shine’s young big man Raymond Almazan is set to join the national team’s practice at the Meralco gym.
The 6-foot-7 Almazan’s entry comes more like a breath of fresh air for Gilas, which has been hard hit by injuries from several members of the pool since last week.
“I expect Raymond to be in practice with us tomorrow, (Sunday),” Baldwin told sports scribes after Gilas’ closed-door practice at the Kerry Sports gym at Shangri-la-La Hotel in Taguig on Saturday.
Though Baldwin reiterated that the shot-blocking Almazan won’t be eligible anymore for Gilas, the Rain or Shine big man still sounded excited after speaking with him Saturday morning.
“As I said, he’s not eligible (for the final 12). We can’t fit him in the roster anywhere,” he said. “But I spoke to Raymond this morning and he’s excited. He just wants to help.”
Outside Almazan, GlobalPort Fil-Am guard Stanley Pringle also offered to lend a hand to the banged-up Gilas pool recently, according to Baldwin.
“Honestly, it’s so motivating when I talk to players because I talked to Stanley Pringle this morning and Stanley said, ‘Coach, if you need a hand, if you’re short on bodies, just call me,'” bared the American-Kiwi coach.
The veteran international coach said every time players come up to him to lend their support, he’d actually have goosebumps.
“I think we should feel that way for our national team and I appreciate those guys so much,” he said. “So we’ll see Raymond out there and thank you so much Rain or Shine organization for making that offer.”
Gilas already lost 3 key players from the pool in a matter of one week. Barangay Ginebra big man Greg Slaughter was the first to drop out of the pool due to an ankle injury, while Matt ganuelas-Rosser is still out due to a foot injury.
Last Tuesday, it was Rain or Shine combo guard Paul Lee’s turn to beg off due to a nagging left knee injury that he sustained during the Commissioner’s Cup won by the Elasto Painters.
At the moment, San Miguel slotman June Mar Fajardo sat out Gilas’ last 2 practices due to a swollen right knee, while Jeff Chan has just started joining practice after being cleared following a groin injury he sustained in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals. – By Richard Dy
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