FIL-AMERICAN rookie Alex Mallari knows there will always be pressure playing for Petron, a team known for its rich championship tradition.
And with a new coach in Olsen Racela calling the shots for the multi-titled team and no less than former national coach Rajko Toroman by his side, Mallari is convinced the Boosters can get the job done in the season-opening Philippine Cup that starts September 30.
“I’m starting to learn the winning tradition of Petron,” said Mallari after spending his fourth day of practice with the Boosters, a team that has attracted attention for its massive personnel buildup in the offseason.
Mallari is happy to be picked third overall in the recent draft just behind big man June Mar Fajardo and NCAA star Calvin Abueva and ahead of heralded names in the pool.
And as he finds himself playing alongside veteran stars Arwind Santos, Jay Washington and Dondon Hontiveros while learning the ropes from cat-quick playmaker Alex Cabagnot, Mallari is motivated to show he belongs.
Mallari stands 6-3 but surprisingly is no stranger to the point guard position which he will most likely play at Petron.
“I’ve been running a lot at the point guard position, which is something I’ m comfortable doing. I’ve been playing in the two-guard or point guard position all my life. And when the ball is in my hands, I’d like to run, push the ball and create situations for my teammates,” added Mallari, who is an expected to sign the maximum three-year deal for top rookies with Petron next week.
For the past four practices, Toroman has been calling the shots for the Boosters in lieu of Racela, who is still coaching the Energen-RP 18-and-under team in the Fiba-Asia U18 Championship in Mongolia.
While he has yet to get his feet wet so to speak, Mallari wants to learn as much as he can from his battle-tested teammates, knowing that they are the best people who can help him adjust better in his new life as a pro.
“Playing in the PBA is definitely a dream come true for me. I’d love the banging and physical play because I’m used to that. With the opportunity I got, I want to help my team win (the championship),” beamed the 6-foot-3 Mallari, who's bound to become the tallest point guard in the league.