Less than 48 hours after locking down the NLEX Road Warriors’ super rookie Kiefer Ravena in Game Two of their 2018 Philippine Cup semifinals series, Jio Jalalon shone bright again for the Magnolia Hotshots in Game Three.
This time, though, the all-around sophomore asserted himself on offense, finishing with a game-high 25 points — spiked by four treys — alongside five rebounds and three assists to steer Magnolia to a 106-99 victory.
The Hotshots, who are still reeling from the loss of leader Marc Pingris due to a torn ACL in his left knee, are now up 2-1 in the race-to-four series.
“Laging nagbibigay si kuya Ping ng message sa’min kaya siguro na-inspire kami,” said Jalalon. “Kasi kahit kulang na kami, positive kami. Kahit wala sila kuya Justin [Melton] at kuya Ping, ginagawa namin yung best namin para sa kanila.”
Pingris’ encouraging messages have always lifted his teammates, and they definitely contributed to Jalalon’s big night. But Jalalon’s confidence shot up not only from the Gilas Pilipinas legend’s message.
“Kagabi, ka-text ko yang si Jio,” disclosed Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.
“Sabi ko na in order to establish himself sa PBA, he needs this series para kahit papaano makuha niya momentum niya and to get his confidence.”
“Nung pagkatapos ng game sa MoA, minessage niya ako,” confirmed Jalalon, who is averaging 11.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists in the series. “Dun tumaas yung tingin ko sa sarili ko. Pasalamat ako kay coach Chito na binigyan niya ako ng tiwala.
“Nagagawa ko na rin yung talent ko dito sa semis.”
With that, Victolero couldn’t be happier that the former Arellano Chief responded accordingly. “Happy ako na nag-respond siya sa challenge ko,” beamed the second-year Magnolia bench strategist.
Jalalon will definitely have a bigger target on his back as the series goes along. But the 25-year-old guard from Cagayan De Oro only looks forward to sustaining his rhythm, as he seeks to help Magnolia barge into the Promised Land.
“Sana magtuloy-tuloy pa ‘to.”