Allein Maliksi projects to make an immediate impact as a floor-spacer in the backcourt for the playoff-minded Meralco Bolts in the PBA Governors' Cup.
Days after being acquired by the Bolts from the Blackwater Elite alongside Raymar Jose in a trade, Maliksi immediately slotted into the sharpshooter role that coach Norman Black wanted on his offense Sunday as he finished with 12 points (4-for-9 shooting) and two threes to go with his five rebounds, two assists and a block in 22 minutes.
"We thought Maliksi would come in and give us more spacing surrounding the offense of Allen Durham, and he did that. He did that from the beginning and made shots and really spaced the floor for us, knocked down some jump shots," Black said after the game.
Meralco is hitting 3s at a top-five rate (35.4) this conference, but it could certainly use more firepower from deep as it is only eighth in makes (9.8) and attempts (27.8). The lack of a lights-out shooter is more emphasized when taking a look at their roster, where no one outside of import Allen Durham is launching more than three shots per game from long range.
The entry of Maliksi -- who threw up six attempts in his Bolts debut and is shooting 35 percent from downtown in the season-ending conference -- could change all that.
"In the case of Allein, he will help us immediately because that's the position where I thought we needed some consistent shooting. I think because he's matured, he's a veteran, he's been through the wars already, and he can really shoot the basketball. I think he can help us a lot in that area," noted Black.
Maliksi seems willing to embrace that role and liked how the Bolts fared on offense, where the team tallied 33 assists while involving him a lot in the halfcourt.
"That's the big difference here in Meralco compared to when I was with Blackwater. The decision-making and the system under coach Norman are all disciplined. He doesn't want anybody forcing things on their own. He really wants there to be teamwork. Everyone's buying into the system," he said in Filipino.
He's not taking a shot at Blackwater, though, as he credited the Elite for helping him develop into a more mature player.
"(Team owner) Dioceldo [Sy] was really patient with me because at first, I didn't really accept the fact that I was traded to Blackwater. My personality turned around," he explained. "It's not only success or money that I was able to get in Blackwater. I got growth and maturity as a person and as a basketball player. That can't be bought."
After a two-year stint with that franchise, the four-time champion can now look forward to reclaiming a more prominent role with his new team as the Bolts brace for an attempt at its deepest playoff run in a while.
"I'm really excited about playing for coach Norman. I feel like a rookie again. I'm used to getting traded, but it's another opportunity for me to learn and improve my game. I can learn a lot from coach Norman. And as a team, my teammates are good to be around with," he said.
"I want to be a champion here, like when I was with the Purefoods franchise," Maliksi added. "Hopefully I get back to the player that I was in Purefoods because I kind of struggled back when I was in Blackwater. My focus right now is really on improving my game again."