Jio Jalalon deservingly received high praises from coach Chito Victolero for the spark he provided to help Magnolia close out Meralco in Game Six of the 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, Friday evening.
The do-it-all guard came off the bench and poured 11 points on a 50-percent clip, together with seven rebounds and four assists. Moreover, the 93-85 win sent the Hotshots to their third all-Filipino finals stint in four seasons.
“Si Jio naman, he helped us a lot on defense, pressure defense. And of course ‘yung kaniyang orchestration sa offense,” said the youthful mentor.
“Talagang nabibigyan niya kami ng extra energy sa offense and defense.”
The 29-year-old had himself a relatively quiet campaign back in the elimination round. In the playoffs, though, he has definitely turned it up a notch.
That began in the quarterfinals versus Rain or Shine, with a conference-high 16 points. He also had six assists, three rebounds, and two assists as they took Game Two, 96-86, to sweep their way into the semis.
Jalalon then followed it up with a 12-point outing in the series opener versus the Bolts. And after a two-game lull, he was back to his old ways, producing double-digit markers in the last three games, including Friday.
In the playoffs thus far, the former Arellano University star has been averaging 10.5 points, 4.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.3 steals.
For Victolero, his floor general’s solid play is all thanks to how locked in he has been in the conference after being hounded by problems in the offseason.
“‘Yung mindset kasi ni Jio ang ganda ngayon eh. Sobrang naka-focus siya. And I told him na ‘pag ganiyan yung focus niya just like his rookie, sophomore year, his third year, sobrang kampante ako once na nag-ikot ako ng tao,” he said.
Jalalon previously became the center of online talk for the wrong reasons due to issues with his wife Kristina.
But then, it truly helps to have some guidance. And in his case, they are in the form of Victolero and veteran guard Mark Barroca.
“I talked to Jio before we entered the bubble. I talked to him one-on-one. Also, the other coaching staff helped me to talk to Jio. Maganda dito, roommate niya si Mark eh. I told Mark to guide Jio,” said the champion coach.
Now, it’s been reflecting with his showings on the hardwood. And Victolero hopes to see more of that in the best-of-seven titular bout. There, the Hotshots will either face familiar foe San Miguel Beer or TNT Tropang Giga.
“He’s the most consistent off the bench sa players namin. I would like to give credit kay Jio kung paano niya trinabaho itong bubble na ito. And hopefully magtuloy-tuloy ‘yung laro niya sa Finals,” he said.