WORD has reached Spin.ph that if there is one Star player who former coach Tim Cone hopes to bring with him to Barangay Ginebra, it should be Alex Mallari.
Mallari has blossomed with the Star in the just-concluded PBA season, logging 26.88 minutes in the Governors Cup and averaging 10.62 points, four rebounds, and three assists while sharing time with resident stars James Yap and PJ Simon in the Hotshots' backcourt.
It is easy to understand why Cone likes Mallari, who was originally picked No. 3 overall by Petron (now San Miguel Beer) in the 2012 rookie draft. That he eventually ended up with Cone at Purefoods (now Star) is no coincidence.
Cone, the most successful coach in league history, has always liked tall guards who can play multiple positions in the triangle offense - a Scottie Pippen-type of player during Phil Jackson's time with the Chicago Bulls.
[See What can Ginebra stars expect in Cone era? Jolas, Duremdes weigh in]
Asked about it, Mallari said he's definitely nowhere close to Pippen's skills but admits he fits the mold.
“Why he (Cone) likes me? He told me this before, he likes tall guards. He’s always been a triangle guy. Ever since the Chicago Bulls days, he likes Scottie Pippen, coz he can play all five positions, he can guard 1 to 4,” he said.
“I think growing up watching the Bulls, he was always for a guy like that. I think I kinda fit the mold. He molded me to be like that and had some success, we have won many games and I appreciate that.
“I am not even close to Scottie Pippen, don’t get me wrong, but for what I can do for the triangle, I think yeah (I am his Scottie Pippen),” said the 6-foot-4 Fil-American guard.
The 28-year-old guard bared that he has also heard talk about a possible move to Ginebra, but said he’s been keeping himself away from social media.
“I heard about it, but I don’t know anything about it. I don’t follow social media. I just do whatever the management tells me. I heard though, but I don’t know if it’s true or not,” said Mallari.
After getting limited minutes early in his career. Mallari credited his improvement as a player to Cone. The shifty guard said he has nothing but respect for Cone and expressed mixed feelings about his move to Ginebra.
“He (Cone) was the one who brought me to Purefoods. I look at him as a father figure, for sure. He’s the ‘dad’ who saved my career. He made me who I am now,” Mallari said.
Mallari has a contract that's expiring at the end of August and he made it clear he can play in any system, not just the triangle offense.
“I like the triangle but I am expiring, so I got to weigh my option, though,” he said. “Ginebra has the best fans. It’s all good. But as a player you need to find the best system.”
[See Five burning questions for Ginebra, Star fans after Cone transfer]
Told that the triangle offense is bound for Ginebra, Mallari responded with a big laugh.
“Yeah, but I can play both. I can play triangle, I can play up and down, I can play the half court. You just have to find the right coach, the right players, the right teammates. Right now, I am just waiting for a hundred percent confirmation. I stay away from rumors,” he said.
“But to be honest, I start to get really comfortable. I am ready to play for Purefoods or Ginebra. Those are the two great fans I really want to play for.”
On how Cone can bring Mallari to Ginebra is unclear, considering sister teams are forbidden from entering into direct trades. For a move to happen, the two ballclubs may have to go through a three-team trade with another non-SMC team.
Things should clear up on Thursday when Cone holds his first press conference as Ginebra coach at the SMC offices in Ortigas.