MERALCO’s Filipino crew that reached the finals of the last PBA Governors Cup will be back in full force for the team’s 45th season campaign.
Gunner Allein Maliksi finally came to terms with the Bolts management last week, and so did back-up guard Anjo Caram, assuring the core of the roster that finished runner-up behind Barangay Ginebra in the season-ending meet, are returning for another tour of duty for the coming Philippine Cup.
Caram signed a two-year deal while Maliksi, acquired in a late season trade with Blackwater, was the last to sign on the dotted line after agreeing to a one-year contract.
Signed by Meralco earlier were big man Raymund Almazan and incoming sophomore Bong Quinto.
Chris Newsome said the signing of Caram and Maliksi is a big one for the Bolts moving forward in their bid to do well in a conference that has been the team’s waterloo the past few seasons.
Meralco has placed either 11th or dead-last at 12th in the last four staging of the Philippine Cup. It last made the playoffs of the league’s so-called crown jewel in 2015 yet.
“Anjo and Allein definitely played key roles for us in the Governors Cup last year, and should do the same in the Philippine Cup, where we hopefully make the playoffs this time,” Newsome said when the league held its second PBA Media Day last week at the Okada Hotel Manila.
“I think that’s the next one (playoffs) because all-Filipino is usually the conference we don’t do so well.”
The Bolts however, will have to make do without the injured Almazan in the early part of their campaign in the all-Filipino conference.
The 30-year-old Almazan is currently recuperating from offseason surgery after suffering a meniscal tear in his left knee in Game 3 of the finals against Ginebra.