THE dilemma that Allein Maliksi is going through right now is a result of the 'hoarding of players' by top PBA ballclubs that can only worsen the imbalance in the pro league, grand slam coach Tommy Manotoc warned.
Manotoc, also a former deputy commissioner in the league, said players like Maliksi are often left to rot in benches of top teams amid the simmering rivalry between two rival organizations that has seen them try to beat each other for the best players coming in.
The 'duopoly,' he said, has inevitably widened the gap between the top teams and smaller ballclubs.
"It is the environment where at the end of the day, you just have two big conglomerates. Intramurals, 'yan ang nangyayari dyan. Ang kawawa rito, 'yung players, they're the victims of that," Manotoc told Spin.ph.
That should include Maliksi, who on Tuesday posted a couple of controversial photos on Instagram, including that of a 'Play Me or Trade Me' shirt, after playing a grand total of six-and-a-half minutes in Star's first two games of the PBA Philippine Cup under new coach Jason Webb.
Hours after Spin.ph ran a story about his controversial posts, several websites reported that he has apologized for his posts after a meeting with Webb.
On Thursday, the Philippine Star's website reported that Maliksi has been suspended indefinitely by Star management.
A former PBA D-League MVP who was picked in the first round at eighth overall in the 2011 rookie draft, the promising swingman out of University of Santo Tomas has bounced around from Barako to Ginebra to Star where he came off an injury to play a solid season under Tim Cone in the last campaign.
Manotoc said it's a pity that players as talented as Maliksi often do not end up with PBA teams that really need them.
"Ang bottomline kasi dyan, kung hindi inipon ang players, makakalaro 'yung iba sa mga teams na kailangan sila. Look at the balance in the league now, may teams na napakaraming scorers, may iba na walang wala. Kasi na-stuck sa iilang teams yung mga may potential (to become stars)," he reiterated.
The situation, Manotoc added, has been worsened by what he calls 'stop' teams - ballclubs that serve as temporary stops for some players who are later elevated to top squads.
"Wala ka ring magagawa, they look at the potential, hindi ka rin gagamitin. At the end of the day it's business," said the six-time champion coach. "It's happening already. Meron ng mga stop teams, yung San Miguel, yung Barako, dun itatapon muna, tapos balik-balik through trade.
"What happens is you will create a greater imbalance between the lower teams and higher teams because pag galing mo, pupunta ka na sa higher team. 'Yun ang mangyayari. Kung di ka masyadong naglalaro, bababa ka muna tapos aakyat ka ulit," he added.
The ultimate loser, Manotoc rued, are the players.
While players are bound to get bigger salaries and better compensation with marquee teams, several seasons on the bench will eventually erode their confidence, games and market value.
"I would say even if it's one year or one year and half (na bangko ka), malaking bagay na 'yun. Mawawala ang laro niyan," said Manotoc, who led the fabled Crispa Redmanizers to a grand slam in 1983.
"That is the offshoot of the system. So the player and the agent have to look long term. First time wala kang playing time, wala kang magagawa. But second time, renewal, mag-isip ka na."
Maliksi isn't the first player who has found himself in this bind; and he certainly won't be the last.
"Kawawa ang players, sila ang collateral damage. But then at the end of the day, wala ka namang masabi sa monetary compensation. Maganda naman ang monetary compensation," he said.
"Yes, you're making a lot of money now. Pero you'll waver eventually, you will not be able to maintain it (same high salary) if you don't play," he said.
"Yung nangyayari kay Maliksi, hindi 'yan ang una. Madami dyan."
Asked if the present PBA leadership can do something to address the growing imbalance, Manotoc said: "They're just saying (they're doing things), but at the end of the day, wala rin silang magagawa.
"At the end of the day, money talks."