By JONAS TERRADO
Raymond Almazan will not be available for Meralco in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series with Magnolia Pambansang Manok due a sprained left ankle he suffered in the 92-78 loss last Oct. 6.
Coach Norman Black confirmed his starting center’s absence in the match which the Bolts must win Friday night to avoid falling to a dreaded 0-3 hole against the Hotshots in the best-of-seven affair.
“Raymond will not play in Game 3,” Black said in a text message. “We will just go to what we have and our other guys will have to step up.”
Almazan left with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter of Game 2 after stepping on the foot of Magnolia counterpart Ian Sangalang during a rebound battle.
The injury coupled with Cliff Hodge’s ejection late in the same period had a huge effect on the contest as the Hotshots were able to pull away for their second win in the semis.
Without Almazan, who is averaging 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 15 games this conference, Meralco will have to get help from its other bigs like Hodge, Mac Belo and Reynel Hugnatan.
It wasn’t the first time the Bolts saw their top center go down because of an injury during a series.
A knee injury forced Almazan to sit out the rest of the 2019 Governors’ Cup Finals against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, which went on to win the series in five games.