MANILA, Philippines -- Just as they welcomed back a key member of their rotation, another crucial player for the Meralco Bolts suffered an injury.
The Bolts got back big man Raymond Almazan on Wednesday, just in time for Game 5 of their 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against the Magnolia Hotshots. Almazan had missed the previous two games due to an ankle injury.
"Raymond is one of the main reasons why we're here in the semifinals. He gives us a big man that can contend with all of the other big men in the league," Meralco coach Norman Black said.
Almazan started the game and went on to score nine points and grab 10 rebounds in the Bolts' 102-98 win, which kept them alive in the seven-game series.
However, their topscorer in Game 5, Allein Maliksi, apparently suffered an injury midway through the fourth quarter of the game.
Maliksi sustained a fractured cheekbone after an inadvertent collision with Magnolia's Mark Barroca, but still went on to score 29 points -- nine of which came in the final period. He drilled two three-pointers in the clutch to lead the Bolts to victory.
Black told Tiebreaker Times that Maliksi is "probably" for Game 6, set for Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
"We are in the process of having him fitted for a protective face mask," Black also said of Maliksi.
Black is also hopeful that Almazan did not reinjure himself after playing 31 minutes in Game 5.
"It's a big lift for us to have him back. I hope he did not re-injure his injury today, and I hope he's ready to play again on Friday for us," he said.