ALEX Mallari was so excited to play against former team Star Hotshots for the first time this season that he went to the wrong playing venue on Wednesday in Mahindra’s final game in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations.
Instead of going to the Astrodome in Pasay City from his home at Valle Verde in Pasig City, the Fil-Am guard proceeded to the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where he thought the Floodbuster’s scheduled game against the Hotshots would be played.
Good thing, he showed up for the team’s 2 p.m. call time a little bit early.
“I don’t know why Araneta? And then I realized I shouldn’t be here,” said a smiling Mallari when asked about his pre-game blunder. “But I blame myself for that.”
“I may be too excited to play my former team. But I take the blame.”
As a result, Mallari came 30 minutes late at the Astrodome, but still managed to put up good numbers in a 124-87 loss that served as the first meeting of Mallari with the Hotshots since being traded by the team during the off-season.
The Long Beach, California native topscored with 15 points, had four rebounds, five assists, and three steals but with five turnovers as the Floodbuster ended their campaign with a 3-8 (win-loss) record.
Mallari has long stressed he already managed to move on following the trade, but still felt a little bit strange when finally faced with reality.
“Being on the other side feels weird for anybody especially (playing) four years and winning four championships,” said Mahindra’s top player.
And he has some good words for the franchise which he said looks promising enough to get back on top.
“They got a lot more weapons, before it was just a couple of guys, but it could be anybody now,” noted the 29-year-old Fil-Am. “Allen (Maliksi) is looking like a go-to-guy, he’s really good, and they’ve got a bunch of young guys and veteran leaders. I wish them luck.”
As for his current team, Mallari sees a silver lining despite bowing out in the race for a quarterfinal berth.
“We’re young, got a lot of energy. We just need to put it all together,” he said. “Every new team has to learn the process. We weren’t expecting big things, we were expecting to be last but we didn’t finished last.”