Center Raymond Almazan has come to terms with Meralco, signing a three-year maximum deal with the Bolts just weeks after an injury forced him out of the finals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The 6-oot-8 Almazan was a yeoman job for the Bolts in the first three games of the best-of-seven series with the Ginebra Gin Kings until a meniscal tear in his left knee suffered in Game 3 ended his championship stint.
Acquired by the Bolts in a mid-season trade with Rain or Shine for two future first round picks, Almazan will likely miss the first six weeks of the 45th season of the pro league on March 1 because of the injury.
“We lost our big man in the first quarter of the third game, and we never seemed to be the same team again,” said Norman Black following Meralco’s third finals loss to Ginebra in the last four seasons.
Until the injury, the former NCAA MVP from Letran averaged 17.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 1.5 block shots in the first two games of the title series, holding his own inside the paint against Kings counterpart Japeth Aguilar, who was later adjudged as the PBA Press Corps-Honda finals MVP.
Prior to the finals, Almazan averaged 14.5 points, 12.09 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game as he finally filled the gaping hole at center.
He is set to undergo surgery and expects to be out of basketball-related activities for the next six weeks, which could mean he’ll likely miss the early part of the season-opening Philippine Cup that starts on March 1.