MANILA, Philippines – The 2017 PBA Philippine Cup is the beginning of a new era for the Star Hotshots, which welcomed a new head coach in Chito Victolero and franchise player in Paul Lee.
The system being put in by Victolero is taking advantage of Lee’s slashing ability, which in turn has given veteran gunner Allein Maliksi more scoring opportunities.
After averaging 9.9 points a game last PBA season, Maliksi has scored at least 10 points already in 3 of the Hotshots’ first 4 games, a span where the team has gone 2-2.
“Yung role ko same parin naman ever since. Nabibigyan lang ako nang mga opportunity, more on sa mga kick out nang mga nag cre-create, like sila Paul, sila Mark [Barroca], yan.”
(My role has been the same ever since. I’m just being given more opportunities, more on kick outs being created by Paul and Mark.)
“Medyo kung ano dumating saakin na opportunity, tini-take advantage ko lang.”
(It’s like, whatever opportunities arrive, I just take advantage of them.)
Lee and Maliksi led the team in scoring with 18 points apiece when the Hotshots decimated the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 123-79, on Saturday, December 10, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Maliksi also credited Star rookie Jio Jalalon out of Arellano, arguably the best point guard in college basketball this past year, for helping him get easy scoring chances.
“Nakakapag create sila off the pick and roll kasi more on pick and roll yung mga plays namin, so nakakapag create sila for the whole team,” explained Maliksi.
(They can create off the pick and roll because our plays consist mostly of pick and rolls, so they get to create for the whole team.)
“Gumaganda yung ikot nang bola namin. Yung maganda sa team, lahat naman willing to share the basketball.”
(The movement of the ball is better. The nice thing about our team is everyone is willing to share the basketball.)
When asked if the Hotshots have the potential to be a championship contender, Maliksi said the team is taking it one step at a time.
“Mahirap masabi, pero syempre, focus parin kami on working as a group - yung chemistry namin and yung bagong system ni Coach Chito. Siguro kaya naman. Ang target muna namin is makapasok sa semis.”
(It’s tough to say, but of course, we’re focused on working as a group - the chemistry and the new system of Coach Chito. I guess we can do it. Our target is to first make the semis.) – Rappler.com