Allein Maliksi ready for 'second chance' as Gilas member

Five years after an "unprepared" first Gilas stint, Allein Maliksi is back with the national team pool. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Allein Maliksi admitted on Wednesday night that he thought he was not that prepared enough in his first stint as part of Gilas Pilipinas.

That is why when he was announced to be part of the national team pool for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, he saw it as a second chance to show he belongs.

"For me, it's a second chance na makalaro uli sa national team kasi noong first stint ko, tingin ko hindi ako ganoon ka-ready. I'm just trying to fit doon sa mga guys na nandoon na matagal nang naglalaro sa Gilas. For me, it's a second chance to contribute," said Maliksi, who bared he only found out about his inclusion through social media.

You can consider Maliksi's "lack of readiness" then forgivable as Gilas won the 2017 SEABA Championship in front of its home fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The stakes, however, are higher as Gilas will face Lebanon, which pushed Australia to the limit in the recent FIBA Asia Cup final, on Aug. 26 (Philippine Time) in Beirut even as Gilas will defend its homecourt against Saudi Arabia on Aug. 29.

That is why Maliksi vowed to level up in his game especially in terms of defense, hustle, and other off-ball stuff.

"Most likely, ang magiging constant ko lang doon is yung effort. Kung dumating yung time na kailangan mong maka-hit ng mga shots and makatulong sa offense, bonus na lang yun, pero yung effort to play defense, hustle, and yung mga other things na pwede mong ma-contribute. Isa lang ang bola eh, so kung ano ang mako-contribute mo without the ball, yun lang yung naiisip ko," he further said.

A major plot twist, however, is that Filipino-American NBA veteran Jordan Clarkson will be joining the team, something that according to Maliksi is a major boost for Gilas.

"It's a good thing na meron tayong Jordan Clarkson. We know his caliber. Kumbaga, siya yung import natin dito. Siyempre, malakas din yung makakalaban," he further said.

Another interesting fact about the current Gilas pool is that the wings just got more exciting to watch with Chris Newsome, Arvin Tolentino, Jamie Malonzo, and Roosevelt Adams added on, joining the 5-on-5 senior squad for the first time ever.

If the 34-year-old Maliksi, who can now be considered a "kuya" among the newcomers, is to be asked, he would advise the same words the father-and-son coaching tandem of Chot and Josh Reyes told him in his Gilas debut.

"Just be yourself, play your game," Maliksi bared what the Reyeses advised to him. "Yun lang naman ang magagawa mo eh. Help the team win and level up. Kailangan mong mag-step up in terms of paano mo matutulungan na makakuha ng panalo ang Gilas. Yun lang naman eh. Wala namang kailangan na advice na something special."

With Meralco's elimination from the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, Maliksi, Newsome, and Raymond Almazan get a chance to play for the Three Stars and a Sun later this month.

However, Maliksi is also aware that whether he makes the final cut or not remains uncertain at the moment.

"It's still a pool pa naman eh. Wala pa namang final lineup," he further said.

Despite that, he added, "Every time naman na may invitation ka for the national team, it's an honor to be a part of it."

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