Raymond Almazan of Rain or Shine goes against a Phoenix defender in this undated photo.
PBA Media Bureau File Photo
Almazan suffers ankle sprain in Gilas practice
Nelson Beltran (Philstar.com) - February 19, 2019 - 9:39am

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas suffered a minor problem in its preparation for its final hurrah in the FIBA World Cup qualifier as Raymond Almazan suffered a minor ankle sprain in practice in Doha Sunday.

The sight in practice Monday, as can be seen in SBP’s Facebook, was Andray Blatche in his element, knocking in successive 3-pointers while Almazan was confined on the sideline with the injury.

Gilas assistant coach Ryan Gregorio stressed, though, that it is just a minor sprain.

"It's an old injury that slowed him down a few weeks ago. He re-injured it on his own," Gregorio told The STAR

Will the Rain or Shine frontcourt player still be able to play? 

“We’re assessing his situation. We’re observing,” said Gregorio.

The Nationals play the Qataris at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Doha (12 a.m. in Manila) then tangle with the Kazakhs Sunday in Astana.

Gilas needs to sweep their last two games in the FIBAWC eliminator to make the World Cup proper late this year in China.

Magnolia teammates Paul Lee and Mark Barroca had had health woes but both are back in top shape, and they’re to share playmaking chores with TNT KaTropa’s Jayson Castro.

If Almazan doesn’t recover quickly, coach Yeng Guiao would lose one player in his frontline rotation.

However, Team Philippines would still have a complete 12-man roster.

Gilas brought to Qatar 14 players in Blatche, Almazan, Lee, Barroca, Castro, RR Pogoy, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Japeth Aguilar, Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, June Mar Fajardo, Poy Erram and Thirdy Ravena.

 Pogoy, however, will still be serving one game suspension. He’s already free to join the Nationals in their game against the Kazakhs. 

The Nationals and the Qataris square off at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in the Qatari capital.

The venue may well look like a home court for Team Philippines with the Filipino community expected to come and support the Nationals.

Last Saturday, the PBA top honchos flew to Doha to provide morale support to the Nationals.

 “I have talked to coach Yeng Guiao, and he’s expressing confidence we can win and make the World Cup. And I believe him,” said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, leading the delegation along with SBP president Al Panlilio and PBA chair and POC president Ricky Vargas.

“We all know that the team is made up of PBA players. So the entire board is flying to Qatar to support the team. We all know in the board how important these two games are for us. We want to win these games,” said Panlilio.

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