ALLEIN Maliksi found out that he was going to be traded by Star to Blackwater two days before the transaction was approved, yet he – and most people – still can’t help but be surprised when the official announcement was made.
The veteran gunner said agent Danny Espiritu informed him of his possible trade by the team where he won four championships in four seasons.
“Gulat din at clueless kung bakit ako biglang na-trade,” Maliksi told SPIN.ph on Thursday. “Hindi ko din alam.”
“So unang reaction ko is sad,” he added. “Nalungkot talaga ako kasi tagal ko na din sa Purefoods, sa Star. Okay naman ako sa management, sa mga coaches, lalong-lalo na sa teammates ko, barkada ko na yung mga teammates ko dun, kasi every day for four years, nakakasama ko.”
“Medyo barkada ko na sila Ian, sila Paul Lee, parang medyo…imbis na every day mo makikita yung mga barkada mo, parang family na din na turing sa kanila, ngayon, nahiwalay, so nakaka-sad talaga on my part.”
Asked on what he thinks triggered the trade, Maliksi feels he simply needs to turn his improved game even up a notch after getting traded for the fourth time in his six years in the league.
“Hindi ko alam (ang reason) Iniisip ko na lang, baka I need to be a better player, kailangan ko pang mas galingan para hindi rin basta-basta nate-trade ako or what, so kailangan ko pa i-level up yung basketball game ko.”
“Kasi kung ganun na yung level ng basketball ko na masyado na akong magaling, bakit ako ite-trade, ‘di ba?” he added. “So ibig sabihin, hindi pa ganun yung level ng basketball ko, kaya nagkaroon ng chance ako na ma-trade. Yun na lang mindset ko na kailangan ko pang galingan.”
The trade came even at a time where Maliksi is enjoying his best season in the pros, averaging 12.9 points on 2.3 three-point conversions, 2.8 boards, and just 1.3 turnovers in 19.8 minutes in 27 games so far this year, although his numbers have slightly gone down this conference owning to sharing minutes with wing import Malcolm Hill.
But Maliksi has no ill will toward Star management.
“Syempre very thankful ako na naging part ako ng Purefoods,” the University of Santo Tomas product insisted. “Hindi naman natin masasabi kung gaano tayo katagal sa isang team or kung gaano tayo katagal sa career as a basketball player.”
“But syempre, blessed pa rin na naging part ako ng team, naging part ako ng grand slam team, nag-grow ako dun as a player and as a person, ‘di ba? Yung mga nangyari before na naging better person ako. Tsaka lahat ng mga naging close friends ang mga naging family ko na din, sobrang thankful ako na naging part ako ng Purefoods franchise. Mabait naman sila sa akin. Inalagaan naman nila ako, so wala din naman talaga akong masabi.”
Maliksi also paid gratitude to coach Chito Victolero for giving him an opportunity and to former coach and now lead assistant Jason Webb for making him grow as a person after player and coach had an issue over playing time that led to Maliksi getting suspended.
“Coach Chito, binigyan ako ng playing time niyan, binigyan ako ng break, ganda ng pinakita ko ngayon taon na ‘to,” Maliksi said. “Kay coach Jason, ganda din ng pinakita ko. Nagkaroon kami before ng issue, pero after nun, mas naging close kami.
“Then lahat ng mga coaches naman, sobrang okay sa akin, kasi tinutulungan nila ako mag-improve every day, pumupunta din sila ng maaga to do extra work para matulungan nila kami,” he added.
But now, Maliksi, whose trade came just a little over a week before he celebrates his 30th birthday on September 18, has to move on.
“Life goes on,” the eighth overall pick in the 2011 Draft said. “Yun lang yung mindset ko, na baka may better plan si God sa akin na much better or mapabuti yung career ko or what. Kasi like before, na-trade ako ng Ginebra, ayaw ko din at nalungkot din ako – actually nung na-trade ako nun, umiyak ako, then hindi ko naman alam kung ano mangyayari sa akin dahil babalik ako ng Barako.
“Pag balik ko ng Barako, loaded yung players, nandun sila JC Intal, yung ibang players, so hindi ko alam kung magagamit ba ako,” he added. “Then eventually, gumanda laro ko dun, nag-improve ako dun, kay coach Rajko Toroman, then kinuha ako sa San Mig.
“So baka talagang may plano ang Diyos for me,” he continued. “Kasi kung hindi ako na-trade ng Ginebra, baka hindi ako nakakuha ng grand slam at nakapag-champion ng apat. Yun yung iniisip ko na lang.”
Maliksi, however, is a bit concerned that he was traded a roughly month before his contract expires on October 31 after getting a two-month extension from the Hotshots.
“Medyo worried din, kasi expiring yung contract ko, bigla ako na-trade,” he said.
But Maliksi is expected to have plenty of opportunity with a Blackwater side that’s on the rise.
“Excited kasi new team,” he said. “Kailangan mong mag-sipag ulit to prove yourself again na mag-fit ka sa system."
Maliksi is set to make his debut on Sunday in Antipolo against GlobalPort, a day before he turns 30.
“I’ll do my very best na maging legitimate contender yung Blackwater, kasi may mga pieces na naman kami,” he continued. “Kailangan na lang ng proper mindset, proper thinking, so yun na lang din siguro ang pwede kong madala sa kanila, kung paano manalo.”
“Pero kailangan namin mag-work as a team,” he was quick to add. “Hindi kami pwede mag-work as individual talents. Sana matulungan ko yung team na mapataas pa yung level ng basketball level.”