Bullock, Almazan Take Charge, ROS Secures Important Win

ROS bench players stepped up with big production

J’Nathan Bullock scored 30 points in this important win for the Elasto Painters (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)

Although both teams are already assured of their respective quarterfinals slots, the Blackwater Elite and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters knew that they need a win to at least have a fighting chance to improve their standings and lessen the possibility of fighting a stronger team especially if you’re a Blackwater team who will possibly face the league-leading Ginebra should the latter win their must-win game against Talk N Text.

A win by Rain or Shine on the other hand, will make things complicated for the NLEX Road Warriors because this would mean that the Road Warriors will need to win against the Star Hotshots tomorrow.

There is a lot of complications that can shake the standings especially in the Top 4. Regardless of who wins in this game, it will have a rippling effect as to who will face who come the quarterfinals.

At the end of the game, Rain or Shine’s experience prevailed against the Elite after successfully finishing the elimination round with a 122-98 victory.
Throughout the first half, both the Elasto Painters and the Elites, led by newcomer Allen Maliksi, traded runs and blows with the former taking the lead right after the first quarter, at 30-21 and then the Elite started to shot better in the field as their import, Henry Walker and Maliksi led the way as the Elite kept themselves close even taking the lead on multiple occasions and settled for a single-digit deficit at the half.
Despite multiple occasions where the Elite were threatening to take back the lead, Coach Caloy Garcia’s players stepped up in the 3rd quarter as the Elasto Painters, led by Maverick Ahanmisi, who made a couple of three-pointers both during the first half and in the 3rd quarter, and import J’Nathan Bullock.

By the time 4th quarter came around, the Elasto Painters’ offense was already despite a few more turnovers as Rain or Shine held a double-digit lead and they did it by running at every opportunity and making both inside and outside shots with complete accuracy.

The lead went up as high as 103-83 after a trey from big man Raymond Almazan with under 8 minutes to go. Almazan would later be called for a flagrant foul after hitting Walker in the face while trying to block the latter’s shot. From that point on, both teams traded made shots after made shots and, missed shots after missed and Walker was taken out of the game with under 6 minutes to play with the lead up 19.

The Elasto Painters were led by Bullock who had 30 points and 8 rebounds. What made it easier for Bullock is the fact that he didn’t have to carry most of the scoring load as Raymond Almazan scored 20 points off the bench. Gabe Norwood played another stellar game with his 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Maverick Ahanmisi finished 12 points while Don Trollano provided additional spark off the bench with his 11 points.

Overall, Rain or Shine made 49% of their shots including 44% from the outside.

On the other hand, the Elite of Coach Leo Isaac, were led by Allen Maliksi with 29 points while Walker had 21 points and 13 rebounds. KG Canaleta added 15 points off the bench while big man JP Eram contributed 14 points as a starter.

What exactly doomed the Elite? Bench scoring was the difference. The Elasto Painters’ bench players combined for 62 bench points and only 19 for Blackwater and they will need everyone contributing come the quarterfinals regardless of who they will face.

Rain or Shine – 122
Bullock 30, Almazan 20, Norwood 15, Ahanmisi 12, Trollano 11, Daquiaog 11,  Belga 5, King 5, Matias 4, Maiquez 2, Robles 2, Borboran 2, Cruz 0, Tiu 0, Yap 0
Blackwater – 98
Maliksi 29, Walker 21, Canaleta 15, Eram 14, Digregorio 9, Sumang 6, Belo 2, Sena 2, Miranda 0, Banal 0, Pinto 0, Cervantes 0, Cruz 0, Elis 0, Javier 0, Marcelo 0
Quarter scores:
30-21, 57-56, 89-77, 122-98 

From GILASable to GILAS Able: Raymond Almazan

It’s good to be right.

Last December 4, this blogger named Rain Or Shine’s Raymond Almazan as one of the GILASables (players who should be accorded an invite to the Gilas 4.0 pool). (Read the article here)
Last Monday, Almazan’s game long brilliance was the key to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters cruising past the suddenly toothless Talk ‘N Test Tropang Texters to make their way into the seminfinal round. Almazan shone with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocked shots while making life extremely difficult for the Texters’ duo of promising big men Moala Tautuua and Troy Rosario (both, incidentally, are part of the Gilas pool)
After the game, this happened.
Bye-bye, Ian Sangalang. He was one of the most surprising picks made by Tab Baldwin, seeing as he was coming off an injury-filled year and had not played in a long while. But his height (always a big factor when talking about international basketball), his varied skill set and his potential was enough for Baldwin to take a gamble.

Two months after informal practices had begun, Sangalang has earned the dubious distinction of being the Gilas invitee who barely showed up to the once-a-week practices. What made it worse was the coaching staff seems to have no idea why he seems so disinterested. Some point to his past history with injuries, others to the tension-filled relationship the SBP has with the SMC teams. 
Whatever Sangalang’s actual reason may be, his absences may have been enough to spur Baldwin into looking for other options that fulfill very specific needs. And while Almazan’s game is closer to Japeth Aguilar’s while Sangalang’s is nearer to Ranidel de Ocampo’s, I think it’s safe to say that Almazan has overtaken Sangalang in the race for one of those 12 coveted Gilas roster spots.
And if Almazan continues improving, who’s to say whose spot he might be gunning for next?
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GILAS-ables: Raymond Almazan

“GILAS-ables” is a series of articles that will discuss different players who could make a case for joining the Gilas pool. This series will include Fil-foreign players plying their trade in other leagues, the US NCAA, and the PBA.

In the second article in this series, we take a look at a young player with a huge upside: Rain Or Shine’s fast rising sophomore forward, Raymond Almazan.
Name: Almazan, Raymond
Team: Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters
Height: 6’ 9”
Weight: 194 lbs
College: Colegio de San Juan de Letran
6.8 points per game, 5.67 rebounds per game, .61 assists per game, .88 blocks per game
2015 Season:
9 points per game, 7.45 rebounds per game, 1 assist per game, 1 block per game
If you go by the numbers, there’s no way Raymond Almazan should be given a slot at the Gilas pool. There are just too many people who have better numbers, have more experience, have better reputations.
But if you look at the bigger picture, as well as the future of Gilas, there are loads of reasons to invest time and training in this young man. At 26, Almazan is still just approaching his prime playing years and if properly developed, he can be a monster on both offense and defense.

On offense, 9 points in 24 minutes is not a lot but you’ve got to remember that Rain Or Shine boasts of one of the truly team-oriented offenses in the league. In fact, only 5 points separate their leading scorer (Jericho Cruz with 14.71ppg in 24mins) from Almazan, their 6th leading scorer.

Almazan is 6’9” and reed thin but he’s also very mobile, capable of chasing down guards and blocking out bigs. He’s an accomplished defensive player who’s also learning to play physical, courtesy of his training under Extra Rice Inc (Beau Belga and JR Quinahan). He is also a ferocious rebounder, grabbing 7.5 rebounds in just 24 playing minutes. What’s even more impressive is he’s grabbing 2.5 of those rebounds on the offensive end, which means he’s finding ways to get position inside, even against bigger players.

He’s also had the benefit of playing for a coach like Yeng Guiao, who’s a certifiable tyrant. That means Almazan will be a disciplined player, capable of executing instructions under duress without cracking and able to withstand the hottest of tirades without wilting, which is important when the weight of a country’s expectations are suddenly laid on his coach’s shoulders.
However, Almazan needs to shine a lot more if he hopes to get even just a sniff of an invite to Gilas camp. The players he needs to prove himself against would be the likes of Japeth Aguilar, Troy Rosario, Moala Tautuua, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Marc Pingris, which is basically a murderer’s row of skilled power forwards. What he has going for him is that he’s young and has tons of upside, which bodes well for his chances moving forward.
Basically, Raymond Almazan could be the Junemar Fajardo from 2 years ago. When Fajardo started training with Gilas, he was barely used in games and struggled in his first two PBA conferences. Suddenly, the Gilas training turnd a light on in his head and he’s been dominating the PBA ever since. Imagine the same thing happening to Almazan, and, in two years’ time, having two 28year olds leading the Gilas frontline, one of whom is a 6-11 offensive juggernaut (Fajardo) and the other, a 6-9 defensive bastion (Almazan).
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