HIS family may not be with him in Manila, but Jio Jalalon didn't feel homesick at all when he celebrated his 25th birthday with Gilas Pilipinas on Wednesday.
The Cagayan de Oro native was all business on his special day, spending much of it working on his game and joining the rest of the team bound for the Fiba Asia Cup in a light training at the Meralco Gym.
It was a sacrifice he's been making since his playing days with the Arellano Chiefs in the NCAA.
But all is well after the Star point guard blew the candle on his cake at the end of Gilas' seventh practice with fellow birthday boy Raymond Almazan.
"Kahit hindi sobrang saya ng birthday ko kasi di ko kasama family ko, nandito naman pangatlong family ko, gumaan din pakiramdam ko kasi sila din nagpapasaya sa akin," he said.
"Since nung NCAA pa ako laging may (game pag birthday ko) tapos di nakakapunta family ko sa Manila. Pero okay lang, magkakapatid din naman kami ng mga to dito."
Jalalon draws motivation from not seeing his family, using it as coal to his steam engine as he tries to fine-tune his game in time for the Beirut, Lebanon showcase starting on August 8.
"Sobrang excited kasi first time ko sa Fiba Asia Cup," he said. "Kung ano lang ipapagawa sa akin, gagawin ko yung role ko na magdepensa sa point guards ng kalaban. Hustle, yun pa rin ang ipapakita ko."