THEY looked scary even without Allein Maliksi and Jio Jalalon. What more with their gunners back in the fold after playing for Gilas Pilipinas?
Star parades a near-full-strength squad as it tests the mettle of Meralco in a battle of the top teams in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Brimming with confidence after their national team stint in the Seaba Championship, Maliksi and Jalalon reinforce a Hotshots side that’s also riding the momentum of two victories without their Gilas representatives against contenders in Rain or Shine and TNT KaTropa.
The Hotshots are set to face another formidable foe and a team they are tied in the standings with a 6-2 win-loss record in the Bolts as both teams take the court at 7 p.m. disputing the solo lead in the standings.
Two hard-banging imports are set to face off in Ricardo Ratliffe and Alex Stepheson.
“I’m confident naman sa team namin,” Maliksi said in a short chat with SPIN.ph after practice on Tuesday. “Happy ako dun sa nilalaro ng team even nung wala kami. bumalik na kami ni Jio, so excited kami to play.”
“Na-miss ko sila lahat, yung team namin, and yung basketball sa Star,” the Gilas gunner added, saying he and Jalalon reported back to Hotshots practice a day after the regional showpiece.
Maliksi insisted there are no hangovers from their national team appearance as he expects to pick up from where he left off when he averaged 13.3 points on 1.9 triples, and three boards in just 21.4 minutes in his first seven games for the Hotshots.
“Wala naman (hangover), kasi hindi naman kami nagpahinga, dere-deretso kami,” Maliksi said. “Hindi naman kami nag-celebrate or what kasi start pa lang na step sa Gilas yun.”