JUST two preseason games into his pro career, Petron Blaze rookie Alex Mallari has already experienced a rude awakening on how physical the PBA game can be.
And the cat-quick Fil-American guard has an ankle sprain, a numb front tooth and small cuts in his arms to prove it.
“The guys we played are a lot bigger, stronger and I really got hit a lot with elbows and their hips,” the 6-4 Mallari recounted to Spin.ph after getting all banged up in matches against Rain or Shine and Alaska Milk.
Mallari has gotten a taste of the physical nature of the game since his D-League days with the Big Chill Superchargers, but he swore it doesn’t come close to the physicality of the pro league game.
During Petron’s first preseason game Thursday at the Acropolis gym against Rain or Shine, the Elasto Painters’ burly slotman Beau Belga made sure Mallari would not emerge from every drive to the basket unscathed.
Mallari said later he felt like he got “targeted a lot” during the 98-103 loss to Rain or Shine.
Against Alaska on Friday, the third pick overall in the last rookie draft got hit in the mouth after figuring in a scramble for the loose ball near the end line against Aces forward Gabby Espinas.
Espinas was slapped with a flagrant two call for the play that came during the halfway mark of the final period, resulting in an automatic ejection on the Alaska enforcer.
“I told Gabby not to be too emotional. It was probably his emotions that got the best of him,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, whose charges pulled off a 90-84 win over the Boosters in the preseason game held at the Reyes gym.
“But the positive thing about it was that [Espinas] wanted to win, even if it’s just a preseason game,” Trillo added.
Mallari, however, is taking it all in stride, saying the bumps and bruises were just reminders of what he will have to face as a PBA player.
“I know there’s gonna be a lot more banging and bruises along the way because that will always be part of the game. But then, I have to be mentally tough,” he said.