Meralco head coach Norman Black on Friday said he was pleased to see Allein Maliksi and Raymond Almazan performing well in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup playoffs, especially in their semis series against Barangay Ginebra.
It took some time for Maliksi and Almazan to click, considering their lackluster performance against Ginebra in the 2019 Governors' Cup.
But they have played crucial roles in the current tournament.
Meralco acquired Maliksi with Raymar Jose from Blackwater in an October 2019 trade that shipped Mike Tolomia, Niño Canaleta and two second-round picks in the 2020 and 2022 PBA drafts.
In May 2019, the Bolts dealt for Almazan, who had a falling out with Rain Or Shine, in exchange for picks.
"Those 2 guys, as I have been saying all along, are a big addition to our team and they are a big part of our team," Black said following the Bolts' 95-77 Game 2 victory against Ginebra.
"We need Allein to score for us to be successful. We need Raymond to have a presence in the middle for us to be successful."
In their 96-79 loss in Game 1, Maliksi shot 5-of-6 from the 3-point area for a game-high 24 points. In Game 2, he scored 14 on 4-of-9 3-point shooting, including key baskets in the third quarter that put Meralco ahead.
Almanzan had 11 rebounds in Game 2 to go with his 11 points.
Black said he is particularly happy for Almazan who has come a long way from his knee injury.
"People don't realize during the pandemic he did not really have a chance to rehabilitate because there was no place to rehabilitate," Black said.
"He could only rehabilitate around August, September. So he was way behind in his rehabilitation. It's only now he was able to get into decent shape, so his performance is really really good for us."
Black said the job was not yet done for the Bolts.
"Right now it just means 1-1, we have to do a good job to prepare for Game 3," said Black.