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    Luigi Trillo Allein Maliksi Meralco
    Luigi Trillo and Allein Maliksi go a long way back.
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    MERALCO may have somehow been in unfamiliar territory when Luigi Trillo stood in as head coach in place of Norman Black, but one Bolts player was used to the setup in the past.

    Allein Maliksi welcomed the momentary promotion of Trillo, the coach who gave the Bolts gunner one of his biggest breaks as an amateur with Cebuana Lhuillier in the PBA D-League.

    Allein Maliksi on Luigi Trillo

    “Medyo matagal ko na nakasama si coach Luigi,” Maliksi said during his recent Spin Zoom In appearance. “Siya yung nagbigay sa akin ng opportunity before ako magpa-draft.”

    Making the most of the Trillo’s trust and substantial playing time, Maliksi emerged as the D-League’s first-ever MVP in the 2011 Foundation Cup where he led the Gems to the finals before losing to NLEX.

    “It gave me more value nung nagpa-draft ako. Yun yung pinaka-big break ko noon, kasi when I was in college, talagang injured tapos one year lang in the UAAP,” said the former University of Santo Tomas star and No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 PBA Draft.

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    Now on his 11th year in the league, Maliksi got to play again under Trillo, the longtime deputy who took over while Black went to the US for almost a month to attend to her ailing mother until her passing.

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    “Sabi niya sa amin, pasensya na kasi ang tagal na niya hindi nag-coach, so hindi na siya ganun ka-sanay o sharp in terms of decision-making or pag ano niya sa huddle,” Maliksi said of Trillo. “Pero for me, he’s okay. Ang tagal ng coach niyan eh. In Alaska, how many championships has he won?”

    Trillo was named 2013 PBA Press Corps Coach of the Year after leading Alaska to the Commissioner’s Cup title that year. The 47-year-old coach has four more championships as an Aces assistant to Tim Cone.

    Since his D-League stint, Maliksi has carved out a name as one of the PBA's top shooters, now working on his defense and playmaking to help the Bolts win their first-ever league title. Throughout it all, Trillo has always been there.

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    “Lagi niya ako binibigyan ng tips, advice kapag may tingin siya na paano ko pa ma-improve yung in terms of my game,” Maliksi said.

    “Kapag may mga mali ako nagagawa, talagang siya yung first critic,” he added. “Minsan nagdi-disagree ako sa kanya, pero later on, mare-realize ko, ‘Onga no, may point naman.’ I always appreciate his concern.”

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      Trillo reminded everyone about his capability after leading the Bolts to a 6-3 record while Black was away, putting a fresh approach to their team’s game that led to finally exorcising the Ginebra ghost in the Philippine Cup quarterfinals.

      “Lahat naman nabibigyan niya ng opportunity eh,” Maliksi said. “Kung sino yung nakikita niya yung maganda yung game, yun yung binabalik niya ng binabalik.”

      “So I think he’s a fair coach,” he added. “Talagang bibigyan ka niya ng chance. And if you play well, you’ll stay in the game.”

      With Black back at the helm in the semifinals against San Miguel, Trillo has retreated to his original role as assistant coach, but expect him to deliver when the time comes again.

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      Maliksi does.

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      Luigi Trillo and Allein Maliksi go a long way back.
      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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