Allein Maliksi himself admitted that he’s struggled to find his stride on offense in the 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
And that, according to the Meralco gunner, is simply because of Magnolia’s conscious effort to keep him in check at all times.
“Actually, ‘yun ‘yung fini-figure out ko the rest of the series eh,” he said.
“Kasi, naka-stay home talaga sila sa’kin and talagang ‘di bumibitaw.”
In the series’ first four games, the 34-year-old only averaged 5.3 points. He shot just a total of 8-of-24 from the floor, including 7-of-20 from deep.
“Kahit na nasa malayo pa ‘ko or what, talagang naka-depensa sa’kin,” said the 10-year veteran, who normed 11.5 points prior to the semis.
But like any other riddle, Maliksi eventually figured it out. And he did so at a time when the Bolts needed all the help they could get.
The 6-foot-4 swingman erupted for 29 points on 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. He powered his side to the 102-98 victory to fight another day.
“Sa’kin, kailangan ko lang mag-step up kasi do-or-die for us eh.
“So kailangan ‘yung mag-set ako ng good example sa mga teammates ko as a veteran for them,” he said moments after the win at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor.
And being one of their leaders, it was imperative for Maliksi to lead not only by example, but as their guiding light in such a rough climb.
“Sabi ko, huwag namin tingnan ‘yung score,” he said, referring to the point where they fell behind by 11 early. “Laruin namin ‘yung game namin. Laruin namin ‘yung best game namin kasi wala nang pressure sa’min eh.
“Ito na ‘yung… Kumbaga ‘pag matalo kami, wala na kami, uuwi na kami. So sabi ko best effort lang, bigay lang natin lahat. Tapos bahala na kung anong maging result. ‘Yun lang.”
Definitely, they all followed his advice.