NEW year, new identity for Star.
Allein Maliksi feels the Hotshots are starting to embrace their new identity without longtime star James Yap – evidenced in their first few games in the PBA Philippine Cup.
The Hotshots began a new era after departure of Yap, who whose trade partner Paul Lee leads the cast of new faces along with Aldrech Ramos and Jio Jalalon, among others, while they also have a new coach in Chito Victolero.
The transition was highlighted even more in the Hotshots’ first Christmas classic against Barangay Ginebra without Yap, resulting in an 86-79 loss that snapped their three-game winning streak.
“For me, this is a new team na eh,” Maliksi said of the popular squad still featuring Marc Pingris, PJ Simon, and Mark Barroca. “Hindi na yung team nila James, Ping, though si Ping pa rin yung heart and soul nitong team.”
“May bagong system din si coach Chito,” he added. “So optimistic kami sa nilalaro namin these past few games and medyo positive kami lahat.”
Asked if the departure of Yap has given him a bigger responsibility, Maliksi insists his role in the squad remains the same.
“Sa akin dito, parang role player pa rin ako eh,” the 29-year-old cager said. “Ang role ko is to spread the floor, spot up, para medyo makapag-maneuver yung mga point guard, kasi more on pick and rolls eh.”
“Magke-create na lang sa akin yung mga kasama ko kung ma-open ako, yun yung time na tumitira ako,” he added. “Tapos kung kaya ko rin paminsan, go lang; hindi naman sila masyado nagli-limit ng (touches). Since nung nag-start ako dito, role player naman ako eh.”
And the 6-foot-3 wingman does his role as the sixth man to the best of his abilities, averaging 11.5 points on 45.8-percent shooting, 2.2 boards, and 0.7 assist in 20.3 minutes in his first six games.
“May kanya-kanyang role yan eh, so you have to accept it,” the University of Santo Tomas product said. “Kung ano ang strength and weaknesses mo, in the system, you need to learn where to attack, where your shots are coming from, kung saan ka makakakuha ng magandang mga looks.”
As professional as he is on the court, Maliksi is as admirable off the court as his family’s breadwinner, simply hoping for continued good health for his parents – his mom has been a cervical cancer survivor for a decade, while his dad has survived two stroke episodes in the past.
“Good health lang sa parents ko, sa family, and loved ones this year,” Maliksi said.