FROM being a third-string point guard of Gilas Pilipinas just two months ago in the Seaba championships, Jio Jalalon will now have to grow up fast for the Jones Cup.
Everyone – including national coach Chot Reyes – is counting on him to take on the leadership role of this young team bound for Taipei owing to the experience he gained from playing alongside Gilas mainstays Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo.
“It’s very obvious that Jio is going to be a big part of the leadership in this ballclub. I thought Kiefer (Ravena) and Rayray (Parks) did a great job as well. That’s encouraging,” Reyes said when asked about the leadership vacuum in this national team bereft of senior players.
As it turned out, Jalalon was ready to embrace the role the moment he was named to the team bound for Chinese-Taipei on July 15.
Jalalon said he was approached by Gilas assistant coach and longtime national team captain Jimmy Alapag and challenged to lead this squad.
“Sinabihan ako ni coach Jimmy na wala na nga si Jayson at kailangan ko na mag-create at ako na lang ang point guard,” said Jalalon after a tune-up game against NLEX which Gilas won, 113-112, on Wednesday night at the Meralco gym.
“Ang dami kong natutunan sa Seaba kahit pangatlo akong point guard, ginagawa ko pa rin 'yung mga sinasabi sa akin nila coach,” he added.
Jalalon was of course delighted with the trust given to him by his coaches but downplayed the praises, saying that he’s simply here to do his job as a point guard.
“Siguro sinusunod ko lang yung role ko. Shine-share ko lang 'yung bola sa mga teammates ko, pinapakita ko lang kung anong dapat gawin bilang point guard,” he said.
Though a lot is expected from him, considering the string of great national team point guards of the past, Jalalon would rather temper expectations.
“Hindi ko magagawa lahat yun. Pero bilang point guard, tutulungan ko yung mga teammates ko.”