Maliksi boosts stock ahead of Gilas Final 12 selection via 3-pt Shootout title

LUCENA CITY— For the longest time, Star forward Allein Maliksi waited to earn an opportunity joining the Three-Point Shootout contest.

His chance—which the 29-year-old Maliksi considers as “once in a lifetime”—finally came on Friday night. And he certainly made the most out of it.

The Hotshots wingman saved his best for last in the final round as he knocked down the last four attempts, including the two-point money ball to upstage fancied rivals LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra and erstwhile reigning two-time champion Terrence Romeo of GlobalPort before a roaring Quezon Convention Center crowd here.

After finishing with 21 points in the preliminary round which Tenorio topped with 23 markers, Maliksi scored 20 in the final round, with his last five points coming in the fifth and final rack to foil the Gin Kings playmaker (18) and the Batang Pier star (17).

“Hopefully,” was Maliksi’s quick reply when asked if his latest individual achievement could cement his status one of the pro league’s deadly snipers from beyond the arc.

“Ito na ‘yung opportunity na hinihintay ko. Ang tagal ko ng gusto sumali, pero hindi ako nabibigyan ng opportunity. Once in a lifetime opportunity ‘to. Paano kung hindi na ako makasali ulit? Sabi ko I’ll just give my best shot and magpo-focus lang talaga ako sa sarili ko.”

Maliksi’s latest performance could also boost his stock ahead of the Gilas Pilipinas’ “Final 12” selection, with the formal announcement set to be made by national team coach Chot Reyes at the end of the All-Star Game here.

The former University of Santo Tomas standout, however, isn’t making any big deal of his latest silverware.

“Wala ‘yun sa natalo ko sila or what. They can do better. Even Marcio (Lassiter), Matthew (Wright) can do better on the next opportunity na makakasali ulit sila,” said Maliksi. “It just so happened na ako lang ang main ngayon at nakaka-shoot. Focus lang talaga nung ako ang tumitira.”

And Maliksi achieved that amid a mounting pressure coming from the sizeable crowd which also included Quezon Province governor Jay Suarez and several members of the PBA Board.

“Medyo nakaka-pressure na sa dulo. Paubos na yung oras tapos nagsisigawan na yung mga tao. Hindi ko rin naman alam ‘yung score ko. Ang mindset ko lang, make every shot that I take. ‘Yung sarili mo lang naman ang kalaban mo. ‘Yun ang focus ko talaga,” he said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @BudoyLagunzad

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