Allein Maliksi turned from hero to zero in just minutes Wednesday night.
With Star down, 86-83, against Alaska with under two minutes left, Maliksi nailed the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime–capping the Hotshots’ 12-3 run in the final five minutes and 55 seconds of regulation.
But his fortunes quickly changed for the worse. After the triple, Maliksi missed his last five shots and had a crucial turnover that clinced the Aces’ 97-90 victory.
The 29-year-old Maliksi said he’s more than willing to own up to his endgame lapses if that’s the situation calls for.
“It’s crunch time and if I’m going to be blamed for this loss, I’m fine with that. I wasn’t able to make the game-winning shot and I can take the blame for it,” said Maliksi.
“It was a learning experience for me and hopefully, I can improve more and be better during those moments.”
Maliksi paced the Hotshots with 15 points and nine rebounds but he missed 10 out of 16 shots from the field including a couple potential go-ahead jumpers inside the last 10 seconds of regulation–the last one a contested mid-range shot that was taken hurriedly.
Star head coach Chito Victolero cleared that the Hotshots’ final offensive possession in the fourth quarter was really for Maliksi.
Victolero also came to the defense of his swingman for his misses down the stretch.
“The play was really for him. That was really for him and down the stretch he was able to make a big shot so I felt he had the confidence to take the shot,” said Victolero. “I can give it to Paul or Marc, but I feel that Allein is the best player that time and he has the confidence so it was really for him to take. It just didn’t go in.”
“It was the player’s decision so we can’t really question the player during that situation. It was his call and whatever it is that he chooses to do I respect that. It’s not a bad shot,” Victolero added. “Allein wants to win and I respect that. If he made the shot we won’t even talk about it now. It’s his call and I don’t have any problems with that.”