Allein Maliksi: From riding the bench to Star's top local scorer
MANILA, Philippines – Roughly 4 months ago forward Allein Maliksi was serving out an indefinite suspension for a social media post hinting at his lack of playing time.
He was frustrated and disappointed, and he wasn’t at a very good place then. But he has since exceptionally turned things around from riding the bench to starring for the Hotshots.
Maliksi, a former University of Santo Tomas stalwart, was brimming with confidence when he set a new career-high of 29 points with 6 rebounds off the bench on Sunday, March 6 as Star outclassed TNT in the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Anywhere beyond the 3-point arc became his comfort zone as he buried all 6 of his 3-pointers to tie the PBA all-time record for most triples made in a game without a miss.
The 28-year-old went from being connected to trade rumors and mostly watching games from the sidelines, to right back in the fray, sweating it up under bright arena lights as Star’s leading local scorer so far.
He said his successful turnaround is a product of hardwork to earn back trust, and grinding it out at practice when nobody was watching.
“Every day practice I’m shooting, dribbling. I really worked hard to improve myself,” shared Maliksi, who is now averaging 17.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and a steal per game. “Every time there’s a game I always challenge myself like, last game this was my performance. Can I top that? Can I beat my previous game?”
Maliksi, who was a first round draft pick in 2011 and also played for Barako Bull (now Phoenix) and Barangay Ginebra, was briefly suspended from the team in late October following an Instagram post of a shirt that read: “Play Me or Trade Me.” He has since deleted the post.
“The issue before with the post, it was just a joke. I didn’t mean any message toward coach Jason or the management. I was a bit frustrated. What did I need to do? How could I earn my minutes? So I just worked on it during practice,” he bared in Filipino.
“I apologized to coach Jason. It was a humbling experience that I should have been professional about it. I apologized because I was wrong.”
As soon as the suspension was lifted, Maliksi promptly rolled up his sleeves and went back to work.
He is now reaping the rewards, seeing significant minutes on the floor for coach Jason Webb. Maliksi’s playing time improved from 7.7 minutes a game – or sometimes not playing at all – in the Philippine Cup to almost 26 minutes per outing this confernece.
'Every time there’s a game I always challenge myself like, last game this was my performance. Can I top that? Can I beat my previous game?'
He has played for as long as 34 minutes this conference and 16 minutes at the least, and stayed out for 31 minutes during his career game. His performance also earned him his first-ever PBA Press Corps Player of the Week citation a day later.
But it’s not the playing time for Maliksi as much as the trust rookie coach Webb is giving him that makes the difference.
“Before I had playing time but I didn’t get enough confidence from coach. My performance was up and down. Now I’m thankful to coach Jason for giving me confidence,” said Maliksi, whom Webb praised for his “solid” game.
Maliksi never forced things on the court, but he did force himself to stick to discipline and work ethic. He comes to practice early and he stays long after it’s over to put in extra shots.
“He showed good patience with himself because before he wasn’t being used and he struggled with his game,” veteran Marc Pingris commended Maliksi in Filipino. “At least now he is able to play his game.”
It’s been a roller coaster career so far for Maliksi, who battled through and came back from an ACL injury in 2014. But a career game is not the end, it’s only the beginning.
“I always think na ano pang kailangan kong gawin. Kailangan ko ba i-challenge sarili ko to be better?” Maliksi expressed faith in himself. (I always think about what else I need to do. Do I need to challenge myself to be better?)
“I’m not as good a defender as before, I’m not as consistent a player as before. Yun yung mga doubts na tina-try ko i-overcome and chi-na-challenge ko sarili ko na kaya ko yun. Kung gusto mo ko gawin defensive player, sige, i-stop ko yung best scorer. Kung gusto mong consistent ako, sige, gagawin kong consistent. And as much as possible, first shot ko hindi ko isasablay.”
(Those are the doubts I try to overcome and I chellenge myself that I can do it. If you want to make me a defensive player, okay, I’ll stop the best scorer. If you want me to be consistent, okay, I’ll be consistent. And as much as possible, I won’t miss my first shot.) – Rappler.com