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Jamie Malonzo repays Ginebra for having his back with career-high vs ROS

Jamie Malonzo thanked his Ginebra teammates for motivating him following his recent mishaps. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—What happened on Feb. 24 was something Jamie Malonzo did not envision.

First, he caught gastroenteritis, which turned out to be a symptom of COVID-19.

And then the now infamous confrontation with another customer at a KFC restaurant along Bonifacio Global City in Taguig which was caught on video and went viral during Gilas Pilipinas' game against Chinese Taipei the night after.

Needless to say, as well, the following days were also rough for Malonzo as he had to deal with all the reactions from the fans.

"It's definitely been tough. It's been a lot for me," an emotional Malonzo said after his first game in all competitions since everything that happened two weeks ago for Ginebra in its PBA Philippine Cup opener on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

""I'm fighting through a lot. It hasn't been easy. It's just difficult to cancel out all the noise and go out there to perform and focus on the game."

However, upon rejoining the Ginebra practice, he quickly found peace from his teammates.

"Just credit to my team. They've been holding me down and checking on me throughout that whole process. They have my back," Malonzo further said.

Ginebra and Gilas head coach Tim Cone added, "I think he's found a sanctuary in practice and games, and I think he's back to his comfort zone with his teammates. So I think that's the key issue for him."

After the forgettable moments two weeks ago, Malonzo put up a performance to remember at least for quite some time for the Gin Kings, finishing with a career-high 32 points to lead them past the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters.

Malonzo, playing with a "black eye" on his left eye area, erupted for nearly half of his total output during the first quarter which put him on track of going for 40 before settling for 32 in the end.

"I'm just happy I was able to do what I did tonight and move forward," he further said.

"It's hard to put it into words tonight. It's been focused on practice, staying with my team, and just going day by day."

Cone added, "He put everything behind and just moved forward, so we're actually really proud of Jamie and what he did tonight."

Malonzo could continue his inspired game on Sunday night when Ginebra battles Phoenix back at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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