Almazan attends first Meralco practice, still unsure of date of return

Almazan joins Meralco practice (0:49)

Raymond Almazan joins Meralco's practice for the first time after parting ways with The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. (0:49)

On his way to the Meralco Gym, Raymond Almazan was as nervous as an anxious child on his first day of school. After all, it was a fresh start for the enigmatic slotman after Rain or Shine traded him to the Bolts Tuesday.

But the 6-foot-8 beanpole looked at home when he joined the Bolts in practice. He participated only in non-contact drills as he has yet to get clearance from Meralco's doctors, but he was already sharing fun moments with the likes of John Pinto in between drills.

Almazan, whose calf injury sidelined him in the Philippine Cup for the Elasto Painters, felt he's just where he is supposed to be.

"I'm happy. I'm excited to play and practice with the team. It's a new team, new life, and new beginning for me," Almazan told a few reporters after the team wrapped up training on Thursday.

Almazan joined a team that has been looking for a marquee big man to match up with the likes of June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter. He hopes he is indeed the right man for the job.

"I hope I can help the team. They've been looking for a big man. I hope I will be able to fill the void inside the paint," said the national team mainstay.

Almazan shared he parted ways on good terms with Rain or Shine, the team that drafted him in 2013. He quashed rumors he had a falling out with Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia.

"That wasn't true. The players, the coaching, we're all good," he said of the team that drafted him third overall in the 2012 rookie draft.

Almazan said he is moving on, keen on helping live up to expectation that he is the missing link for the Bolts who have struggled in the All-Filipino conference.

"It's sad but we need to move on. It's our job, we need to be professional," he said. "And I can see that I can also be happy here. My teammates are happy. I like the environment."

Almazan, though, is not likely to make his debut when the Bolts open their Commissioner's Cup campaign on Sunday.

"Definitely he won't play Sunday. That's out of the question. I don't think he's played in several weeks so I don't expect him to come out and play on Sunday especially considering he doesn't know anything that were doing in our system," said Meralco head coach Norman Black.

"And the fact that he's probably not in great shape -- we'll give him time to get in shape, we'll give him time to learn the system, and were not rushing it. We got Raymond Almazan not for the first game of this conference but for hopefully the next three, four, or five years."