It took quite some time, but it was better late than never for Allein Maliksi.
Maliksi snapped out of his shooting funk as Meralco stayed alive in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals against Magnolia with a gritty 102-98 win in Game 5 on Wednesday, October 13.
The veteran guard gave the Bolts a much-needed shot in the arm after churning out a conference-high 29 points built on an impressive 7-of-8 clip from three-point distance.
His explosion was a welcome development for Meralco, especially after Maliksi put up only 2 points in a flat Game 4 performance that saw him shoot 0-of-4 from long range.
"I needed to step up because it was a do-or-die game for us. I needed to set a good example for my teammates as a veteran," Maliksi said in Filipino.
Maliksi battled through shooting struggles in the first four games of the semifinals, averaging just 5.3 points on a 33% shooting.
After multiple 20-point outings in the elimination round, Maliksi had gone cold and failed to breach the double-digit plateau in the first four semifinal games as the defensive-minded Hotshots put the clamps on him.
"I'm trying to figure out the rest of the series. I think I need to find a way to create offense for my team because the defense stays home on me and never leaves me alone," Maliksi said.
"I just try to read the defense and look for ways to get open."
Maliksi finally hit his stride in Game 5 as he came through in crunch time, unloading all of his 9 fourth-quarter points – including two triples that gave the Bolts a 96-90 lead – in the last four minutes.
"I thought Allein did a great job of hitting his outside shots and opening up their defense," said Meralco head coach Norman Black.
"We had our backs against the wall, there was no tomorrow for us. It was a very gutsy performance on the part of my players, to go out and battle the entire game." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.