TAIPEI - Jio Jalalon has always been about speed.
But on Wednesday night, he looked to be on fast forward while the rest of his Gilas Pilipinas teammates moved in slow motion.
The Star Hotshots spitfire provided the lone silver lining for a lackadaisical Gilas side, using his blinding speed and boundless energy to keep the Filipinos in the game against South Korea in the 38th Jones Cup at the Taipei Heping Gymnasium.
The 5-foot-9 scored a game-high 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, grabbed three rebounds, and had one assist and a steal in just 13 minutes and 24 seconds on the floor. He also made a three-pointer - the lone trey Gilas made in 26 attempts.
The massive effort of the pocket-sized guard went for naught, however, as Gilas slumping to a 72-83 defeat that all but killed its hopes of winning a championship which the Philippine national team last won in 2012 behind tournament MVP LA Tenorio.
"We all know naman what Jio can do but the problem is, we had to keep pulling him out of the ballgame dahil napapagod s'ya and he had an injury yesterday (against Japan)," said Gilas coach Chot Reyes.
"He still wasn't a hundred percent but he gave us a big lift off the bench. That's why if we only shot better, kahit 4-of-26 lang, baka nanalo pa tayo," he added.
Gilas went just 1-of-26 from three-point land.
Jalalon said he took it upon himself to get the offense going after seeing his teammates struggle to make shots against the Korean zone.
"Nakikita ko kasi, ang mga scorers namin hindi talaga maka-shoot, kaya nag-kumpiyansa na lang ako sa sarili ko na ako na lang ang tumira," said the PBA rookie out of Arellano.
"Kailangan rin naming tumakbo kasi 'yun naman ang offense namin. Tapos share the ball para makatira ang mga shooters namin. Pero malas talaga," he added.
It is that ability to change a game' complexion with his speed - and the admirable maturity he has shown in just his fourth tournament overseas - tha makes Jalalon a lock for the Gilas side bound for the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon next month.
Jalalon, however, is not looking that far ahead.
"Hindi ko pa muna iniisip 'yon," he said. "Focus muna tayo dito."