Raymond Almazan's status is day to day but, with or without him, the Meralco Bolts will go all-out to put the best stand possible against the Barangay Ginebra Kings in their PBA Governors Cup title playoff.
At posting time, the Meralco management and coaching staff were still awaiting official reading of Almazan's MRI test taken right away after hurting his left knee in an awkward fall early in Game Three.
The Gin Kings took advantage of Almazan's early exit, making a massive explosion in the third period on the way to a 92-84 win and a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven title playoff.
Almazan has been a difference-maker for Meralco in this tourney, but his injury right can now be the game-changer in the series.
The lanky 6-foot-8 center averaged 17.5 points and 10 rebounds in the first two games and was coach Norman Black's primary defender for Ginebra import Justin Brownlee. He's also a good matchup for Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter.
The Bolts definitely felt his absence in Game Three.
"Our biggest concern is the fact that when Raymond was not around, you saw what happened with Japeth -- pretty much ran wild out there on the court," said Black.
"What he (Almazan) has done this conference is give us an opportunity to match up the big man of the other teams and without him, we almost had a hole in the middle. We will just try to find a way to camouflage it or try to fix it," Black added.
Black is bracing for the worst as he fears Almazan could be out for the rest of the series.
"When I talked to him at halftime, he couldn't move his leg. And being a former player myself, that's never a good sign. I'll try to be as positive as possible and hopefully, he will be okay," the Meralco mentor said.
"But being a player myself, having a swollen knee at the middle of the championship is not something that you could just bounce back that easily," he added.
Black nevertheless said they're not to raise the white flag.(SB)