Several fans have been asking how Raymond Almazan, the 6'8 beanpole center of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, got injured in practice prior to Game 3 of their Best of Seven series against the San Miguel Beermen. It indeed was quite unusual, especially for someone as important as Almazan, to suffer an ill-timed injury, at a crucial juncture.
While there's no one, not even Almazan, at ROS camp capable of stopping Junemar Fajardo, Almazan was the Painters' best hope of at least minimizing his effectiveness. Unlike the Extra Rice, Inc. - Beau Belga and JR Quiñahan, as well as Jewel Ponferrada, Almazan had some length that made it difficult for Fajardo to reach over from behind to get the rebound. At the same time, Almazan is an offensive threat that will force Fajardo to use up some energy to defend him.
So what happened? During practice, part of the rituals normally done by players is to body bump each other in celebration over a good move. Three players, Jireh Ibañes, Ponferrada and Almazan, saw the opportunity to body bump each other. While Almazan and Ibañes leaped as high as they can, Ponferrada unwittingly stayed on the floor. Upon landing, Almazan's foot hit Ponferrada's and painfully landed on the floor, twisting his ankle.
You can imagine how pissed Coach Yeng Guiao was after the incident. For ROS, losing Almazan for the series was extremely crucial. They can afford to lose a few of their guards, including the prolific Jericho Cruz, because they have a bevy of other talented guards who can take his place. The bigs are entirely different. Guiao rotates his 4 centers with almost equal playing time - losing one of them means the rotation suffers.
And now that Paul Lee himself would be out for the next 3-4 weeks due to a knee injury, hopes for the Painters to give their coach his first All Filipino crown has severely dimmed. Beating SMB two games in a row is already a near miraculous feat....what more winning 4 games against Alaska in the Finals minus Lee and a ginger-footed Almazan?