MANILA, Philippines -- Raymond Almazan is honored to receive a call-up to the Gilas Pilipinas national team, but the Meralco center wants some time to clear his head first following their loss in the semifinals of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup.
Almazan and the Bolts absorbed a 100-89 loss to the San Miguel Beermen in Game 7 on Wednesday night, ending their All-Filipino campaign. It was a painful result for the Bolts, as they could not build on their impressive come-from-behind win in Game 6.
"We're still proud," said Almazan, who had 12 points and seven rebounds in the loss. "Ang dami naming pinagdaanan this year. Through ups and downs, nag-stick lang kami sa mantra namin na stay together, whatever happens."
"Umabot ng Game 7, 'yun naman ang gusto natin kasi alam naman natin na powerhouse 'yung San Miguel. Alam naman namin na binigay namin 'yung best namin, so nothing to be ashamed of," he said.
Almazan will have little time to dwell on the loss, as he is one of three Meralco players called up to the national team for the upcoming window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers. He, Allein Maliksi, and Chris Newsome are part of the 24-man pool put together by the Gilas coaching staff.
This is Almazan's first call-up to the national team since the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
"Mapasama ka pa lang sa pool, be proud of yourself na kasi hindi lahat ng player nabibigyan (ng pagkakataon) na masama sa pool. Happy ako about that," said the 33-year-old center.
"Iba 'yung nagse-serve ka sa country mo," he added.
Almazan said on Wednesday night that he has yet to be contacted by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), and he remains unsure when he can join the national team in practice.
Gilas started practicing at the Meralco Gym on Monday.
"Hinhintayin ko pa rin muna ang schedule ng practice namin sa Meralco. And then siyempre, kailangan muna ng pahinga, kasi naglaro kami eh. Kailangan muna na ma-clear 'yung mind mo," said Almazan.
"Pangit magpunta sa practice ng medyo… Hindi naman kami down ngayon, pero siyempre, masakit 'yung puso namin, talo eh," he admitted. "Kailangan munang tanggalin, pagpag ba."
But he vowed that he and his Meralco teammates will be ready as soon as they receive the call from the Gilas coaches.
"Kung sakaling imbitahan nila kami sa practice, why not? Kami ni Allein, ni New," he said.
"Siguro konting rest lang muna, and then baka mag-practice na rin siguro."