Raymond Almazan couldn’t help but be glad after being selected to be part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool that will see action in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Almazan, the 6-foot-8 Meralco slotman, admitted that being part of Gilas is a dream come true so he will savor it to help the country regain its lofty status in the international arena.
Although he failed to be part of the first practice session last Monday due to his tight schedule with the Bolts in the early stretch of the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup, Almazan assured that he remains committed to the national team program.
Among those who showed up in the national team’s first practice for the final window that will be held at the cavernous Philippine Arena in Bulacan were June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez of San Miguel Beer, Justin Brownlee and Japeth Aguilar of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, Roger Pogoy and Calvin Oftana of TNT Tropang Giga, incoming University of the Philippines swingman LeBron Lopez and Kevin Quiambao of De La Salle University.
Several new additions were also in attendance like Filipino-Australian Mason Amos, Schonny Winston and Jerom Lastimosa.
Almazan said he enjoys playing for the national squad.
“All my Gilas stints were unforgettable because playing for the national team is like a dream come true. I believe that’s every player’s dream,” Almazan told Daily Tribune.
In particular, Almazan relishes the experience playing with National Basketball Association veteran Jordan Clarkson when they campaigned in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.
Almazan was tapped by his former coach, Yeng Guiao, while Clarkson was enlisted by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to reinforce the squad.
“That was one of the best memories I had playing for the national team when I played with Jordan Clarkson (in 2018),” said Almazan, who is now looking forward to play with Brownlee, who will come in as the country’s naturalized player.
Brownlee, in fact, has been their tormentor after he powered the Kings to four titles at the expense of Almazan and the Bolts in the finals of the Governors’ Cup.
“I’m happy and excited to be his teammate, this time, because we were always rivals on the court. This time, I have an opportunity to possibly become teammates with Brownlee with the national team.”