IT was a short-lived stint that lasted only for one official game.
But that does not deter the faith of Marinerong Pilipino coach Yong Garcia, who is convinced Fil-Am forward Jamie Malonzo has what it takes to be the top pick overall in the PBA Draft set on March 14.
“Tingin ko malaki ang chance ni Jamie (Malonzo) na mag-No. 1, kasi para sa akin, si Jamie puwedeng maglaro ng multiple positions, puwede siyang mag-2, 3, and 4 dahil sa height niya and iyong skills niya, masasabi mo na puwede siyang maglaro as a big or small,” Garcia told Malaya-Business Insight yesterday.
“Si Jamie, napakabait na bata inside and outside the court. Wala kang masasabi sa kanya and talagang nakikita ko siya na magiging future superstar ng PBA,” he added.
The 6-foot-6 Malonzo emerged as favorite to be the No. 1 pick overall in the PBA D-League Draft last year but AMA Senior High had a change of heart and instead opted to tab homegrown player Reed Baclig.
With only eight matches played and mothballed for six months at the start of the government-imposed lockdown to stem the spread of the contagion, the D-League season was scrapped in September last year due to the lingering threat and risks perils brought about by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
In his first and last game in the D-League against ADG Dong-Mapua, the high-flying Malonzo wound up with 23 points, 11 rebounds, six steals, and four assists.
Malonzo, 24, 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, Malonzo also saw action for Mighty Sports, which bagged the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.
Garcia said his former prized ward has shown a potential to be a certified pro league star in the making.
“Before the season, marami kaming tune-up games, one month before the tournament, twice a week kaming may tune-up,” Garcia said.
“Sa mga tune-up game namin, talagang makikita mo na iba iyong Jamie Malonzo, PBA-caliber player.”