Maliksi, Pinto step up for Meralco to extend semis
MANILA, Philippines—Meralco was in desperate need of a win in Game 5 of its semifinals series against Magnolia. Fortunately for the Bolts, they ignited much-needed firepower from Allein Maliksi and John Pinto, who delivered career performances.
The pair fired on all cylinders to power the Bolts to a crucial 102-98 win over the Hotshots and trim the series deficit to 3-2 in the semifinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
Maliksi finished with a playoff career-high 29 points on the back of seven three-pointers—also a career best—and was big down the stretch for the Bolts as he went on a personal 9-3 run that gave his team a 99-93 lead with 1:21 to play.
“With our backs against the wall, we just needed to give our pure effort. As for myself, I knew I had to step up because this is a do-or-die game for us,” said Maliksi on Wednesday at DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga. “I should set a good example for my teammates because I’m one of the team’s veterans.”
“We just have to give it our all in this series, and technically the pressure isn’t on us anymore but we do know our situation. We lose one and we’re out, we go home, that’s why we just have to give our best effort.”
Pinto also played his best game in the PBA when he finished with a career-high 24 points with five assists while holding his own against Hotshots’ vaunted backcourt of Paul Lee and Mark Barroca on the defensive end.
Maliksi said he talked to Pinto during the game to be another scoring punch for the Bolts as the team could not just rely on one or two players to push them past Magnolia.
“I always talk to Nards and I told him that he has to be aggressive because the defense is practically staying with me and it can’t just be New (Chris Newsome) or Bong (Quinto) who would create offense for us,” said Maliksi.
“I’m really proud of Nards for what he did today.”
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