CITING his committment to mother school Arellano, Jio Jalalon said he will skip the Fiba Asia Challenge Cup next month.
Jalalon confirmed this on the eve of the announcement of the final lineup of the all-amateur Gilas team that will vie for honors in the September 9-18 showpiece in Iran.
Considered the best point guard in the NCAA, Jalalon said his priority now is to lead the Chiefs to the finals of the oldest collegiate league in the Philippines.
"Oo. Kasi nag-usap kami ni coach (Josh Reyes) tungkol sa NCAA. Sabi nya focus na muna ako dun," said Jalalon after Gilas 5.0's tuneup against FEU on Wednesday which they barely won, 84-77.
Currently, the Chiefs are in second place behind San Beda with a 9-2 win-loss record. And as much as he likes to play for the national team, Jalalon said this could be the school's best shot at returning to the finals.
"May doubt din sa utak ko kasi ayaw ko rin iwan Arellano kasi ito na yung chance namin e. Kaya sabi ni coach focus muna ako dito. OK lang sakin na ma-cut ako (sa Gilas)," he said.
Reyes said he knew how big of a loss Jalalon is for the Filipino cagers, but said the crafty playmaker can still "go full-time with us" after the NCAA.
"Gusto talaga nya maglaro. I'm really impressed with his committment and willingness to sacrifice for the national team," said Reyes.
"He's an important piece but focus on his committment to Arellano first because after this he can go full time with us."
The pint-sized Jalalon said a lot of point guards - who are bigger - can fill his shoes anyway.
"Maraming (pwedeng mag-fill ng void): Si Mike (Tolomia), Ed (Daquioag), and Jonathan Grey. Si CJ (Perez) pina-practice mag-point guard," he said.
"Maganda takbo ng team kasi malalaki. Kasi pagdating sa Iran feel ko para akong bata kasi malalaki yun. OK din yung desisyon ni coach."