The Meralco Bolts have been dealt with a huge blow as Raymond Almazan suffered a meniscal tear on his left knee, according to a report released by ESPN5 this morning.
Almazan suffered the said injury in the 5:55 mark of the first quarter during Game 3 of their best-of-seven finals series against the Ginebra Gin Kings last Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Almazan was a force to be reckoned with for Meralco as he would be a steady presence inside the paint on both ends of the floor. He has been the answer for the Bolts’ problem for these past few years. At the same time, he has shown the capability to knock down outside shots when needed to keep defenses honest.
Clashing with the likes of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, Raymond Almazan was not the one to shy away from the challenge as he had been posting norms of 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in the first two games of the series.
In fact, during Game Three when the Bolts center was sidelined, Japeth Aguilar had a field day and made his case for the Finals MVP award should the Gin Kings win the title. Aguilar posted 23 points, four rebounds, along with seven blocked shots.
Losing Almazan will be big for Coach Norman Black as he would have to dig deeper into their bench to try and fill the gap. For now, it looks like Bryan Faundo will get some of the minutes. However, he cannot provide much of what Almazan brings to the table.
Guys like Allen Durham, Chris Newsome, and Baser Amer would have to do more heavy lifting on the offensive end and bench players such as Nard Pinto, Allein Maliksi, and Anjo Caram will have to do their part as well.
Cliff Hodge looks to be the guy getting the lion’s share of Almazan’s minutes, but he is undersized compared to Ginebra’s big men. He will, however, provide the intangibles needed for the Bolts.
Ginebra may very well be on their way to secure their third title in the last four Governors’ Cups, but don’t expect Meralco to go down without a fight.