The departure of James Yap in the offseason gave athletic wingman Allein Maliksi an opportunity to blossom into a legitimate superstar under new Star coach Chito Victolero.
Getting the green light to shoot, the 6-foot-3 Maliksi didn’t disappoint, delivering for a Star quintet that has learned to win big games in the post-James Yap era.
In fact, Maliksi stood at the forefront of Star’s two-game win streak this past week after averaging 25.5 points and 5.0 rebounds to help his team secure a quarterfinal spot in the Philippine Cup.
Maliksi’s leadership and growing confidence earned him his first Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week award for the period of Jan. 22-28. He beat former Star teammate and now Mahindra’s go-to-guy Alex Mallari, Alaska’s young forward Kevin Racal, three-time league MVP June Mar Fajardo, GlobalPort gunner Terrence Romeo and TNT’s rookie Roger Pogoy.
The former University of Santo Tomas Growling Tiger went scoreless during the first period, before finding his stroke in the last three quarters in Star’s 111-95 rout of Blackwater last Wednesday.
He went on to finish with a personal season-high 26 points, built around five triples.
Three days later, the eighth overall pick of Barako Bull in the 2011 PBA Draft, presided over Star’s merciless 120-73 annihilation of Meralco.
The 29-year-old Maliksi knocked in 17 of his 25 points in the Hotshots’ whirlwind first-half scoring attack on the way to the Star’s second lopsided victory for the conference.
With the all-Filipino conference heading to the final week of the single-round eliminations phase, Star has a chance to snare the No. 2 seed.