Like good old times for Maliksi, Mariano

Like good old times for Maliksi, Mariano

ALLEIN Maliksi and Aljon Mariano had a good time reminiscing about the past when the PBA On Tour visited the University of Santo Tomas on Wednesday.

The two former Growling Tigers felt at home as Meralco and Barangay Ginebra played a preseason game at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion.

Maliksi and Mariano made their way around the facility hours prior to their game as they looked back with fond memories during the time they were still wearing the Growling Tigers jersey.

Mariano suited up for the Espana-based school from 2009-2014, while Maliksi was a batch ahead after playing for UST starting in 2007.

"A lot of memories na naalala ko being a student-athlete here before. So I was very excited to come back," said Maliksi, 35.

Mariano said for his part, "Naaalala ko yung teammates ko, coaches. Ang dami pa ring familiar faces na nakita ko. So nakakatuwa na nandito pa rin sila. And kasama ko sila sa journey ko nung college."

Unlike Maliksi, Mariano already got to play at the QPav during his time with the Tigers.

"Dito kami nag-stay and nagpa-practice every game," said the 30-year-old Ginebra wingman, who was part of UST's back-to-back runner up finishes in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The UST men's team still practices at the old playing facility along P. Noval St. during Maliksi's time, but was able to play at QPav when his team back then, Ginebra and later, Purefoods, went up against UST in separate exhibition matches.

The two players likewise sought out former coach Pido Jarencio prior to their game.

"First game sila. Sakto nagkita kami and ang daming moments na binabalikan namin," said Mariano.

Jarencio, a legendary figure at UST where he's back as head coach of the team, had a game with NorthPort earlier where he now holds the position as team manager. The Batang Pier lost to NLEX, though, 95-87.

With Maliksi at the firing end, Meralco snapped Barangay Ginebra's three-game winning run, 106-93, as he finished with 23 points, including 13 in the opening period.

"Sayang nga lang hindi namin nakuha yung panalo, pero I hope nag-enjoy naman yung lahat," said Mariano.

Nonetheless, the two expressed gratitude to the PBA and UST for allowing them to have a great homecoming.

"Salamat sa PBA On Tour and sa UST for making this happen," said Mariano. "Ite-treasure ko ito, babalikan ko pa rin ito kahit pagtanda ko." (RG)

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