New team, same Jamie Malonzo.
It was just another day in the office for Malonzo in his debut with the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, as he finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks, and a steal in nearly 37 minutes of game time. And then of course, there was the usual high-energy activity that has endeared him with any team he has played for.
It was all well and good, until you remember that the Gin Kings lost their conference opener.
The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters had somewhat of a “debut” of sorts within their team, as Yeng Guiao began his second tour of duty with the Elasto Painters. Rain or Shine responded with hot 3-point shooting in the second quarter, blowing past Ginebra and spoiling Malonzo’s solid debut enroute to an easy 93-71 win.
Malonzo entered the Gin Kings not without controversy, as the trade that sent him from NorthPort Batang Pier to Ginebra was viewed as the latest transaction between one of the league’s power brokers and its “farm teams”. The stellar play of Arvin Tolentino to the start of the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup somewhat kept the flak at bay, but unfair or not, all eyes will remain on Malonzo to validate the trade.
In reality, it’s just one game and there’s a lot of basketball to be played before the jury is out on Malonzo and the Gin Kings. A loss like that has its teachable moments and realizations that can lead to better play in the future. One can understand the early season rust considering how the roster is arguably on the older side, with Malonzo already one of the youngest players on the team at 26 years old. However, Ginebra isn’t the type to lose sleep over a single loss, as they have had the tendency of starting slow enroute to a championship finish. It also helps that they have an old reliable in Justin Brownlee suiting up for them in this conference.
Scoring comes relatively easy for Malonzo, but what makes him a special talent is his ability to fill in whatever role Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone would need from him. Rebounding and defense are some of his best attributes, but he can also bring the ball down, run the break, and make plays for his teammates.
Still among the league’s younger players, Malonzo still needs to sharpen and tighten some aspects of his game. Putting points on the board was never a problem, but his efficiency has been inconsistent, especially when teams get used to his tendencies. However, it’s his free throw shooting that has been subpar, as the former DLSU Green Archer has never shot higher than 61.5 percent from the free throw line in a conference.
Malonzo’s athleticism gives him an advantage over most, if not nearly all of his peers, but with the insane athleticism comes some moments where he can become too wild. Much of these can be addressed through proper coaching and being able to execute in game situations and perhaps by then, it can be viewed as a looming issue or charged to “growing pains”.
That Malonzo is young by Ginebra standards, though, means that the team can build around his talents and pair him with Scottie Thompson, a fully healthy Jeremiah Gray, and whoever they manage to acquire in the free agent or trade market. It would make for a different look for the Gin Kings compared to when they would take time and score with more deliberateness, but the energy and frenetic pace should excite the Ginebra faithful.
The Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings didn’t bring in Jamie Malonzo to solve all their problems, but as he showed in his debut, he already has a lot to bring to the table. We have yet to see the final form of Malonzo’s game and the thought of that should make for one of the intriguing storylines for him and the Gin Kings in this conference and for the years to come.