Marc Pingris encourages Maliksi to aspire to be a complete player as he joins Gilas ranks
Allein Maliksi joins Gilas' Monday training at the Meralco Gym. Jerome Ascano

ALLEIN Maliksi insists it’s the mental part of playing basketball that’s more grueling than the physical aspect as far as juggling club and country duties are concerned.

The morning after participating in the first of Gilas Pilipinas’ once-a-week practices on Monday night, the Star forward took part in Hotshots practice on the eve of the team’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup debut against Phoenix.

And it’s remembering the plays of both national coach Chot Reyes and Hotshots counterpart Chito Victolero that makes it tougher for Maliksi to adjust.

“It’s more on mental eh, kasi physically, kaya mo i-recover yung katawan madali eh,” Maliksi, who replaced Paul Lee in the national pool, said in a chat with SPIN.ph after practice on Tuesday. “Yung mentally na puro basketball yung ginagawa mo the whole day, yun na lang yung kailangan mong ayusin, yung mindset mo.”

Talk about info overload.

“Iniisip ko na lang, yung mga NBA players nga, minsan thrice a day mag-ensayo,” he continued. “Ganun lang iniisip ko na it will help me improve more na makatulong ako sa Purefoods and also, maku-kundisyon ako at maa-apply ko sa Philippine team pag time na kailangan na kami mag-step up.”

The circumstance will only augur well for Maliksi, teammate Marc Pingris believes.

“Deserve naman niya yun eh,” Pingris said. “Nag-iimprove naman si Allein eh. So alam ko na may matututunan siya sa Gilas. Alam ko rin maga-guide din sila ni coach dun. Malaking experience yun na makaka-tune up mo yung mga ibang players na mas malalakas sa’yo, lalo na pag umalis na yun mga yan, pag may mga nakaka-tune up na mas matatangkad sa kanila. Madadala nila yun.”

“I hope na si Allein, mag-step us siya at I pray na makuha siya,” he added.

[See Fajardo, Castro deserve Gilas captaincy more than me, says Abueva]

While he believes Maliksi is a fit for Gilas, Pingris is encouraging his Hotshots teammate to work on his defense.

“Oo (fit siya), big guard tapos may shooting. Mas ano lang siguro – hindi ko naman sinasabi na walang depensa si Allein – mas ma-improve niya pa mabuti yung depensa niya,” Pingris said of the 6-foot-3 gunner. “Dahil iba sa international, hindi basta-basta.”

Maliksi was flattered with Pingris’ praise, and knows there’s plenty of work to be done.

“Thank you sa praise ni Ping na perfect fit ako sa Gilas, but syempre, hindi yun mangyayari kung hindi rin dahil sa kanila,” the 29-year-old University of Santo Tomas product said. “Nailabas ko yung laro ko dahil din kay Ping, sa mga teammates ko, and kila coach.”

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“And, hindi ko pa rin napo-prove yung sarili ko na perfect fit ako sa Gilas until dumating na yung time na nakalaro na ako and nanalo na kami,” he added.

[See Maliksi, Pingris defend Paul Lee from critics questioning his desire to play for national team]

Defense is one thing that will make him a complete player.

“Ever since naman, yun naman yung weakness ko eh, yung defense,” Maliksi admitted. “I’ve not been known as a defensive player, but yung effort and desire, andun naman, so yun naman siguro mas important.

“And mga techniques lang, kung ano man yung gustong depensa na ipapagawa ni coach Chot o coach Chito, yun na lang din yung kailangan ko matutunan…Minsan, ino-observe ko rin yung mga good defensive players: sila Ronald Tubid, si Ping, kung paano sila dumedepensa, so I’m still learning yung that part of my game.

“Sana mag-improve pa,” he concluded.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos