October 04, 2023

Allein Maliksi says Meralco treating PBA On Tour like any other game

Allein Maliksi says Meralco treating PBA On Tour like any other game

Even though there’s really nothing on the line in the PBA on Tour, expect the Meralco Bolts to go all out each game the same way they did on Wednesday.

Make no mistake about it. While it’s not yet the official PBA season, the Bolts are here to win.

“We’re treating this game professionally, so as much as possible we want to win every game as much as we can,” said Allein Maliksi after the Bolts' 97-89 win over the NorthPort Batang Pier at the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig.

It’s easy to understand why.

Meralco is playing under a new leadership after Luigi Trillo replaced Norman Black at the helm. Meaning, this preseason is the perfect time to get accustomed to Trillo's newly installed fast-paced system.

“New system. Marami kaming adjustments. Ina-apply lang namin 'yung ginagawa namin sa practice, trying to be more aggressive, make the right plays, and play as a team,” said Maliksi, who finished with 21 points on 4-for-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

The change was noticeable from the get-go. Known more for their halfcourt sets under Norman Black, the Bolts kept pushing the pace against the Batang Pier, and it resulted in a 26-12 lead after the opening quarter.

Then, there's the arrival of big man Norbert Torres, who Meralco acquired in exchange for seldom-used Mac Belo. Torres made an impact right away, chipping in 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists for the Bolts, whose perennial dilemma has been size up front.

It’s the same mentality for the Batang Pier, who are looking for someone to fill the void left by Japan-bound Robert Bolick. The Batang Pier showed their own sense of urgency by erasing a 20-point lead in the third canto to head into the final frame tied with Meralco at 64-all.

Meralco, though, dropped 6 three-pointers in the payoff period, including the last from Maliksi, to give the Bolts some much-needed breathing room, 94-83, with still 1:31 remaining. Jeff Chan, who ended up with 20 markers, responded with a triple of his own before a Bolts turnover led to a Kent Salado breakaway layup that allowed NorthPort to inch closer, 94-88.

Bong Quinto, who finished with 14 points, sealed the win with a breakaway layup off a missed Chan 3 inside the final minute.