Allein Maliksi helps put Bolts on threshold of first PBA title
LOUDER THAN WORDS

Allein Maliksi helps put Bolts on threshold of first PBA title

Meralco Bolts' Allein Maliksi tries to slip past the defense of San Miguel Beermen's Chris Ross during Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals

Meralco Bolts’ Allein Maliksi tries to slip past the defense of San Miguel Beermen’s Chris Ross during Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Allein Maliksi admitted coming into Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals with a chip on his shoulder, especially from the number of articles he read over the past 48 hours.

“Nakaka-challenge (It challenges you),” Maliksi said late Friday evening after playing a pivotal role in Meralco’s 92-88 victory over San Miguel Beer at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The win gave Bolts a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series to move within a win of their franchise’s first championship.

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Maliksi noted how he, Bong Quinto and Raymond Almazan were maligned for their off-shooting the previous game when the Bolts practically subsisted on Chris Newsome’s career-high 40 points, which eventually were not enough for the result they had wanted.

Offensively, the three were nonfactors in Game 4, which they were able to atone for in a contest where Meralco also got its defensive swagger back while surviving a late San Miguel rally.

“‘Pag maganda laro mo, maganda mga writeups. Pero ‘pag struggling ka, may mababasa kang write-ups (When you play good, the writeups are good. But if you’re struggling, you read [negative] writeups),” said Maliksi, who wound up with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting while also doing his share on the other end.

“I really challenged myself to be aggressive, to be a leader and to be a veteran,” he continued in Filipino.

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Roles reversed

Almazan had 14 while Quinto chipped in eight, which eased much of the weight Newsome carried from Game 4.

“I told Bong and Raymond that we have to step up because sometimes even when I struggle, the team is playing well. Even if I struggle, I give way to my teammates and we are able to step up,” Maliksi said.

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The roles were reversed this time, as Newsome struggled early on, then put up shot after shot to help Meralco gain control in the fourth, eventually equaling Maliksi’s output of 22 points for the Bolts. Chris Banchero and Cliff Hodge were also crucial on both ends too. And now the Bolts will try to close it out with the first of two chances on Sunday at the Big Dome.

A victory allows Meralco to not only capture a PBA crown for the first time, but end a 52-year wait to be on top of the mountain in big-time basketball, having been MICAA Open champions in 1971.

Meralco won despite San Miguel star June Mar Fajardo producing a season-high 38 points, much of which he had to work for against a tough Meralco defense led by Almazan and rookie Brandon Bates.

Crucial miss

But like Newsome the previous time, it was Fajardo which sorely needed a support as CJ Perez was the only other San Miguel player in double figures with 17, and the fiery swingman needed 16 attempts—missing 12 of them—to reach that total.

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Perez also missed a crucial free throw late when San Miguel rallied from a 10-point deficit. The split from the line pulled the Beermen within two, 90-88, but Newsome iced it by knocking down two of his freebies, time down to six seconds, for the final count.

TAGS: Allein Maliksi, Meralco Bolts, PBA Finals, San Miguel Beer

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