MANILA – The Meralco Bolts will aim for a series tie with the Barangay Ginebra Kings even without their star center Raymond Almazan in Game 4 of the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals 7 p.m. tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco’s team manager Paolo Trillo said on Tuesday that the athletic 6-foot-8 center sustained a lateral meniscal tear on his left knee after landing awkwardly in a layup drive during a Game 3 defeat last Sunday.
“We will talk to him and assess (if he can play in Game 4). For now, his status in Game 4 is a game-time decision,” Trillo said.
Their head coach Norman Black is still hoping that the Bolt’s starting center could return in the best-of-seven series showdown even though he will be possibly absent in tonight’s game.
“Let’s hope that’s not the case (on Almazan missing the entire finals),” said Black. “But when I talked to him at halftime, he couldn’t move his leg. And being a former player myself, that’s never a good sign.”
“I’ll try to be as positive as possible and hopefully, he will be okay. But being a player myself, having a swollen knee at the middle of the championship is not something that you could just bounce back that easily,” he added.
Before Almazan’s injury, he averaged 17.5 points, 11 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in the first two games of the finals.
For Ginebra’s part, the injury of Meralco’s star center and his possible absence in tonight’s game of the series will be a beneficial advantage to edge their team a step closer to being crowned as Governors’ Cup champions.
Obviously, his presence or lack of presence was really felt,” said Kings head coach Tim Cone. “I said in Game 3, this is the time for Japeth (Aguilar) and Greg (Slaughter) that can really make a lot of forays in the paint, get some seals with Raymond out.”
“I hope he is alright. Our game plan (in Game 4 will be the same) We’ll plan as if he is playing on Wednesday,” he added./PN