FIL-AM guard Alex Mallari is making the most of the time given him in the first two games of the Philippine Cup Finals as San Mig coach Tim Cone tries to dig deep into his bench against Rain or Shine.
The 6'4" Mallari is slowly getting more comfortable with his off-the-bench role, spelling either James Yap or Peter June Simon while providing some defensive and occasional offensive spark throughout the playoffs.
"I'm just staying right down the bench, trying to give the first group a break, me and Justin (Melton)," Mallari told Spin.ph on Tuesday.
Mallari, a first-round pick of Petron in last season's draft before being shipped to San Mig, said bench players like him can't afford to relax in the Finals since the first group need all the breather they can get after a tiring seven-game semifinal series against Ginebra.
"We're trying to play well and give the first group some rest. It's crucial for us (second group). We need to be on top of our game," added the left-handed Mallari who contributed eight points in 19 minutes to help San Mig to an 80-70 Game Two win on Sunday.
Because of his fine play, his playing minutes have significantly increased to 18.5 minutes in the Finals from 12.3 minutes in the semifinals.
The victory knotted the best-of-seven championship series at 1-all with the Mixers now looking to get the upperhand with another win on Wednesday.
Mallari said he's preparing himself for the long Finals grind that includes a lot bumps and bruises against Rain or Shine, which is noted for its rugged plays.
"You've got to be ready for the physicality because that's what they (Elasto Painters) are known for," he said. "You can't cry about the call just because you can't get it. You just have to keep going."