Gilas rookie Jio Jalalon also a game-changer like Abueva and Romeo, says Chot Reyes
Rookie guard Jio Jalalon (center) shows he can deliver both on offense and defense in a team loaded with stars. Jerome Ascano / Jaime Campos

CEBU – It’s not just Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo who can be Gilas Pilipinas’ trump cards when the chips are down.

National coach Chot Reyes made special mention of Jio Jalalon for also helping turn the tide in the team’s 125-112 win over the Visayas selection in the PBA All-Star week finale on Sunday night.

While super subs Abueva and Romeo who carried most of the load on offense, it was Jalalon, one of Gilas’ rookies, who anchored the national team’s defense in the second half, especially pestering LA Tenorio.

[See Abueva, Romeo lead fightback as Gilas beats Visayas selection in first game together]

“We couldn't stop LA and so we put Jio on him and I think that changed the complexion, the defensive complexion of the ball game,” Reyes said in an interview with News5’s Lyn Olavario after the game.

“I agree, Terrence, Calvin off the bench definitely changed the complexion, but also I think the other guy was Jio,” he added. “Jio Jalalon was also a game changer.”

Tenorio led the All-Star in scoring with 19 points, but the Ginebra sentinel scored just five points and committed two turnovers in the payoff period.

[See Calvin Abueva not dwelling on missed All-Star game MVP, focuses on Gilas' team performance]

Jalalon also contributed on offense, scoring on a short putback jumper that capped a 17-4 run to start the fourth quarter and turn the game around as he finished with six points, six boards, and three assists in 16 minutes off the bench.

The Star rookie is among the bench sparkplugs that highlight Gilas’ depth that Visayas coach Tim Cone marveled at.

“That was by design,” Reyes said as he explained the composition of his Seaba unit. “Remember in different interviews, I said that we put a premium on versatility and you cannot have versatility without depth. So that's really how we designed it to be.”

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“And the weaponry is just having a lot of different weapons in the arsenal at our disposal,” he added.

[See Tim Cone marvels at abundance of Gilas players 'who can change game on a dime']

“Again, that comes with depth. So that was very at the top of our mind when we were forming the team, to make sure that we had a lot of depth and a lot of tools and weapons at our disposal,” Reyes ad.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos