By JONAS TERRADO
Allein Maliksi is set to end his four-year stint with the Star Hotshots after he was dealt to the Blackwater Elite in a puzzling four-player trade consummated by both teams over the weekend.
Star agreed to send Maliksi and seldom-used rookie Chris Javier to Blackwater in exchange for Bambam Gamalinda and Kyle Pascual.
The deal, however, is yet to be approved by Commissioner Chito Narvasa.
Sources were already aware of the trade at the time when Maliksi was suiting up for the Hotshots against the Meralco Bolts in Saturday’s PBA Governors’ Cup out-of-town game in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
He scored seven points but played just 14 minutes in the Hotshots’ 96-90 loss at the City of Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex.
Many Star fans were left stunned with the trade, considering Maliksi is having his best season since joining the team from the now-defunct Barako Bull in 2013.
He started out playing second fiddle to former franchise star James Yap, but was a key component in the memorable 2014 Grand Slam run when they were known as the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers and under the tutelage of coach Tim Cone.
Yap was traded to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters for Paul Lee before the season, and Maliksi became one of the top stars under first-year mentor Chito Victolero.
Maliksi was even selected to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the SEABA Championship, winning the title via a sweep.
However, Maliksi’s minutes dipped this conference, averaging over 15 minutes despite scoring 8.7 points per game.
Gamalinda and Pascual join Star after stints as role players for Blackwater, which recently acquired Dave Marcelo and Chris Ellis from Ginebra in exchange for injured star Art de la Cruz and Raymond Aguilar.
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