Jio Jalalon’s all-around brilliance was on display Monday night in Game Two of Magnolia’s semifinal clash with NLEX. But the greatest contribution he had in their series-tying 99-84 victory was beyond the figures he had produced.
The sophomore point guard, who had nine points, 10 assists, and six rebounds, took the responsibility of defending the Road Warriors’ super rookie Kiefer Ravena, who emerged as NLEX’s hero back in Game One last Saturday.
And Jalalon fulfilled his role excellently.
The top-ranked rookie, who finished with 16 points in the Road Warriors’ pulsating 88-87 win last Saturday, was limited to just nine points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field in nearly 22 minutes. Ravena, moreover, committed five turnovers.
“Game One talaga kinabukasan nag-move on kami kaagad. Nung pagdating nung practice, ayaw ibigay ni Coach Chito [Victolero] yung defense kay Kiefer,” shared Jalalon.
“So sabi ko ‘Coach, ibigay mo muna sa’kin. Subukan ko lang.
“Kasi sabi ko sa sarili ko positive lang ako kung anung gagawin ko sa depensa kasi kailangan naming makabawi kasi wala na din si Kuya Ping (Marc Pingris), wala na din si Kuya Justin [Melton] so kailangan mag-step up lahat,” the 5-foot-9 floor general furthered.
Ravena gave props to his good friend for doing a great defensive job on him.
“We have to give credit also to the defense eh. I saw this interview with Jio (on Twitter), the familiarity of him being since college, that’s one of our perks playing alongside each other with Gilas,” said the 24-year-old guard.
“The battles we played internationally and the practices we’ve had together, mayroon at mayroon ka talagang matututunan kung paano yung tendencies ng isang tao.”
The series has now turned into a virtual best-of-five after Monday night’s result. Jalalon, however, doesn’t want to think that momentum has shifted on their side, especially now that their rotation got reduced by two major players.
“Makikita natin sa Game Three yan,” said the former Arellano Chief. “Enjoy life na lang kami dito, kumbaga wala na lang pressure. Kasi nawalan na kami ng dalawa na kailangan namin. Wala kaming pressure, enjoy lang.
“Pagdating sa lalaruan, wala ka ng ibang iisipin kundi maglaro na lang eh, bigay mo na lang best mo.”