SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–Aljon Mariano drew NBA-like comparisons from no less than coach Tim Cone.
Cone said Mariano’s playstyle for Barangay Ginebra can be compared to Miami’s Andre Iguodala and Golden State’s Draymond Green, who are both undersized role players.
“He’s a guy we really believe in because he’s so versatile. He can do so many things,” said Cone after the Kings outplayed Alaska, 87-81, in the last game of the league’s first-ever quadruple-header Tuesday night at the AUF Arena.
“He’s our toughest player, no doubt about it. When he plays well, I think it really helps us attitude-wise and defense-wise. He really gives us a lift. He’s really crucial to what we do,” added the multi-titled mentor.
Mariano showed his all-around game for the Kings against the Aces, coming through with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal in nearly 25 minutes of action without a turnover.
The former UST stalwart was obviously flattered by Cone’s commendation, but insisted that he’s just doing his job in the stacked squad.
“‘Yun talaga ang role ko sa team, bring energy, hustle and play defense. ‘Yun ang mga priorities ko na ma-contribute para magkaroon ng edge ang team and ng chance manalo,” he said.
“Trying to be more aggressive on both sides lang para maganda ‘yung pwesto namin going to the playoffs. Sana makapag-top four kami,” he added.
Now, Mariano is aiming for consistency following a decline in his performance in Ginebra’s previous outings.
The 28-year-old cager tied his career-high 20 points to lead the Kings to their first victory in the bubble at the expense of NLEX, 102-92, last October 11.
But an ankle injury prevented him from going all-out in the next five games as he only put up a measly average of 5.4 markers.
“Wino-work out ko ngayon ‘yung consistency talaga kasi nung first game namin ‘di ba okay ang nilaro ko and parang medyo bumaba kasi ‘di rin nila alam na two or three days before our first game, na-sprain ‘yung ankle ko,” he bared.
“I was playing hurt na since sa NLEX game. Ngayon pa lang nagha-hundred percent ang ankle ko so syempre nakakagalaw na ‘ko nang maayos sa court.”