MANILA, Philippines -- In his second season with the Meralco Bolts, veteran guard Allein Maliksi has been given the greenest of lights by Coach Norman Black to do what he does best -- score.
Acquired by Meralco midway through the PBA Governors' Cup, it took a while for Maliksi to acclimate to the team and averaged just 6.75 points in four elimination round games with the Bolts. He had better performances in the playoffs, but Meralco will need far more from him in their current All-Filipino Cup campaign.
Against the Alaska Aces last Wednesday, Maliksi showed that he was ready to take a bigger role in the Bolts' offense after scoring a team-high 17 points off the bench, making seven of his nine field goals. He also had four rebounds and two assists in the 93-81 win.
"He just did tonight what we expect from him. We expect him to score, that's what he's here for," Black told reporters after the game. "That's what he is. Actually, he's a scorer. And when he comes off the bench, he has a license to shoot."
Having that kind of trust from his head coach is a boost to Maliksi's confidence, even as he knows that it is also a challenge for him.
"Ang laking bagay, nakaka-boost ng confidence," he said. "'Yun din 'yung identity ko, na as a player eh. Kailangan kong maging aggressive scorer."
"But at the same time, kailangan din na may pasensya ako, na magtiwala ako sa sistema ni coach na dadating sa akin 'yung opportunity," he added.
After their win over the Aces, Black said that the only thing he asks of Maliksi is to take good shots and avoid taking "challenged shots" -- the well-defended attempts that are less likely to find the bottom of the net and stall the Meralco offense.
"But certainly, when he's in the game, he's out there to put the ball in the hole," Black stressed. "And he has the freedom to do that with me, anytime. Anytime he has a good shot, he can take it."
Maliksi assures that he is learning to be more patient, especially after seeing how well it worked for them in their game against Alaska. They had dropped their first game inside the PBA bubble in Clark, a 116-98 setback to the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters.
Against the Aces, they were more deliberate in their offense, and aggressive on defense. It resulted in a comfortable win, with Maliksi, Baser Amer, and even rookie Aaron Black hitting big shots in the fourth quarter to deny Alaska a comeback.
"As much as possible, early in the shot clock, early in the parang sa possession medyo maaga pa, patience lang," said Maliksi.
"Pagdating na paubos na, winding down na 'yung clock, kailangan mo ng mag-create, kailangan mo ng maghanap ng options mo na gagawa ka na ng sarili mong diskarte."
The Bolts return to action tonight against Barangay Ginebra, in a rematch of the PBA Governors' Cup Finals. By his own admission, Maliksi was not at his best in the championship series, and one of his motivations in this conference is to bounce back from those poor outings.
"Siyempre, gusto mong magpakita, gusto mong mag-bounce back from last conference na, lalo sa Finals medyo hindi maganda 'yung performance ko," he said. "So gusto ko mag-bounce back this conference, na makatulong talaga sa ine-expect sa akin nila coach."
"So ayun, malaking bagay na 'yung mga coach mo, may tiwala sa'yo at inaasahan ka nila. Mas magiging ano ka pa, responsible kang player na kailangan mong pumukpok talaga," he added.