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Black stays positive

Hopefully, this is not serious. I really wanted to go back and finish the game.




Meralco coach Norman Black remains hopeful that Raymond Almazan would be able to see action in Game 4 of their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup best-of-seven finals series against Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday.

Black said losing a quality player in this very crucial stretch of the tournament would definitely be tough, especially with the Kings enjoying a 2-1 series lead.

Almazan had an awkward landing in the first 5:55 of the Game 3, prompting him to be carried to the locker room for immediate treatment.

But the 6-foot-7 slotman didn’t return as he was brought to the Makati Medical Center to undergo a series of tests that would determine whether he could still suit up in Game 4.

Results of Almazan’s magnetic resonance imaging have yet to be released.

Black said he is keeping his fingers crossed.

“I’ll try to be as positive as possible that everything will be okay,” said Black, a former Best Import awardee.

“From being a player myself, having swollen knee in a middle of a championship series is not something you can bounce back from immediately.”

Almazan said he had no idea what happened when he landed after shooting a drop shot. He lied on the floor and walked gingerly, prompting his teammates to carry him to the locker room.

“I really don’t know what happened. I just suddenly felt a pain on my knee. I think it’s because I landed on a wrong foot that’s why the side of my knee buckled. This is the first time that I suffer a knee injury,” Almazan said.

“Hopefully, this is not serious. I really wanted to go back and finish the game.”

In his previous statement, Black stressed that compared to their previous final series against Ginebra in 2016 and 2017, they are more equipped now to win the title following the arrival of Almazan.

But disaster struck and he suffered a knee injury, prompting Japeth Aguilar to dominate the paint and finish the game with 23 points, four rebounds and seven blocks.

“Our biggest concern is that when Raymond is not around, Japeth runs wild out on the court,” said Black, citing the need for his slotman who has been averaging 17.5 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in this series.

“What he has done this conference is that he gives us an opportunity to match with the big men of other teams. Without him, we will have a huge hole in the middle.”