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Meralco acquires Almazan from Rain or Shine for two first-round picks

Rain or Shine has traded Raymond Almazan to the Meralco Bolts in exchange for the Bolts' 2019 and 2021 first-round picks.

The deal was approved by the PBA Trade Committee on Tuesday.

Almazan only played in six games in the 2019 Philippine Cup with averages of 8.0 points and 6.0 rebounds.

The former Letran star was named to the All-Star team twice during his time with the Elasto Painters and won a championship in the 2016 Commissioner's Cup.

Almazan, who was the third overall pick in the 2013 PBA Draft behind Greg Slaughter and Ian Sangalang, has also suited up for Gilas Pilipnas on several occasions.

The deal gives the Bolts much-needed help up front.

"He's a good shot blocker, a good rebounder. He can score around the basket. Those are all the things we need," Meralco head coach Norman Black said on Tuesday after the team beat Alaska, 87-80, in a tune-up game.

Now Meralco has someone who can hold the line against the likes of reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo as well as the Ginebra twin towers of Japeth Aguilar and Greg Slaughter.

But Black insisted he's not downplaying the skills of his other bigs.

"We've gone quite a few years now without being able to man the paint, particularly in the All-Filipino. We have bigs - I'm not downplaying them. Almazan is one of the best bigs in the country. He's a national team player. He gives us some size," he said.

His addition won't immediately turn things around for the team. But the veteran bench tactician said Almazan will definitely make a world of difference for the Bolts.

"I will say he definitely will make us better. let's see what happens about the fortunes," he said.

Almazan is joining a team that will be reinforced by import Gani Lawal in the upcoming Commissioner's Cup. The two will form a solid frontcourt for the Bolts, who are hoping to make a splash in the mid-season conference which starts on May 19.

Meanwhile, Jared Dillinger is out for at least a month with a right quad injury while Ranidel de Ocampo is expected to see action after being bothered by injury last conference.

ESPN5's JC Ansis contributed to this report.