Jun 15, 2024

Maliksi answers the call for Meralco

IT took one call up to awaken the warrior in Allein Maliksi.

The veteran gunner exploded for a series-high 22 points to lift Meralco past San Miguel, 92-88, and moved on the verge of claiming its first ever PBA championship.

Maliksi shared scoring honors with Chris Newsome, but made known his intentions right away by coming out of the gate like a house on fire and chipping in half of his output in the first two quarters of Game 5 Friday night in the Philippine Cup finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Averaging just 10 points in the first four games of the title series, Maliksi doubled his output this time, while shooting 10-of-17 from the field and had five rebounds.

It turned out a short note on his Game 4 performance along with those of Raymond Almazan and Bong Quinto challenged Maliksi to prove his worth.

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"Nakaka-challenge kasi kapag maganda ang laro mo, maganda yung mga write-ups. Pero kapag nag-struggle ka, may mababasa kang write-ups," he said shortly after the Bolts took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"Talagang chinallenge ko ang sarili ko, to be aggressive, to be a leader, to be a veteran."

Maliks sure came out a different player following the 111-101 loss to San Miguel, someone who's motivated and on a mission.

"I'm asking plays para sa sarili ko. I'm more assertive in terms of offense," he said. "Sabi ko 'New, call this play, CB (Chris Banchero) set me up. Just always be involved in the two-man game, three-man game, or weak side. I continue to find my touches, Aggressive lang talaga. Kailangan ko mag-step up."

Meralco hopes to put the finishing touches in its attempt to finally nail that elusive title come Sunday when Game 6 is played at the Big Dome.

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And the Bolts certainly needed another clutch performance from Maliksi to achieve that goal.(RG)