For Malonzo, playing in PH is top priority

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    HOME is where the heart is.

    Fil-Am forward Jamie Malonzo, a potential No. 1 pick overall in the PBA Draft set on March 14, admitted he considered playing elsewhere in the world.

    Returning to the Philippines meant a lot more for him, however.

    “I just always knew that it would always be fun being able to go back home to the Philippines and eventually play in the PBA. Coming out of college, I definitely was weighing my options,” Malonzo said last Saturday on Radyo5 92.3 News FM’s Power and Play program hosted by former PBA Commissioner Noli Eala.

    “I could have gone to Spain, in Italy, in Lithuania but I figured it would mean more to me if I were to go back home and play in the Philippines and meet some of my family members that honestly I’ve never met before. I think that just meant more to me. It’s something I wanted to do,” he added.

    The 6-foot-6 Malonzo suited up for only one season for La Salle in the UAAP last year as a “one-and-done” player and averaged 15.8 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 steals and was named to the Mythical team.

    A product of Portland State, the Seattle, Washington-born Malonzo also saw action for Mighty Sports, which won the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.

    A brief stint with the Green Archers toughened him up for the pros, according to Malonzo.

    “Just being with La Salle for that one year? I learned a lot, especially from guys like Andrei (Caracut), Aljun (Melecio), Justine (Baltazar), those guys are all champions at one point. I was just soaking it all in,” Malonzo, who traces his Filipino roots to Batangas and Pampanga, said.

    “Having that one year under my belt, playing in the Philippines, is just the bit of the taste I needed for the pros.”

    Malonzo, 24, emerged as favorite to be the top pick overall in the PBA D-League Draft last year but AMA Senior High had a change of heart and instead chose to tab homegrown player Reed Baclig.