JIO Jalalon did a Scottie Thompson on Thursday night, showing he can crash the boards as well as his college rival as he emerged as one of the sparkplugs in Star’s 78-74 win over Ginebra in Game One of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.
The 5-foot-9 rookie playmaker hauled down nine rebounds, including three on the offensive end, as he collected the second most rebounds in the team, next only to the 12 of veteran teammate Marc Pingris.
The former Arellano star was quick to shrug it off.
“Naswertihan lang siguro dahil ‘yung bola napupunta sa akin,” insisted Jalalon, who averaged 4.5 boards in the eliminations. “Naging aggressive rin ako. Lahat ng bigs rumi-rebound, tapos ako nag aabang lang sa bola, kaya nakukuha ko ‘yung ibang rebounds.”
Thompson, who engaged Jalalon in numerous battles in the NCAA, collared one more rebound than his college rival, but the latter had the last laugh.
Jalalon also bounced back offensively as he tallied six points on 3-of-8 shooting, two steals, and one assist while not committing a single turnover in 20 minutes off the bench after going scoreless, missing all his 10 shots in 24 minutes, in the two rivals' Christmas Day game in the eliminations.
“Hindi ko na iniisip ‘yung zero points ko (dati),” the Gilas Pilipinas cadet said. “Kumbaga ginawa ko na lang ‘yung hustle. Sinasabihan ako ni coach na kailangan ko muna dumipensa bago ako maka-score. Kaya ayun, nagawa ko.”
Jalalon also took turns with his fellow pesky point guards in limiting the production of LA Tenorio, who was held to eight points just days after a career-high-tying 31 markers.
“Nag-focus lang ako mag-stay sa harap ni Kuya LA,” he said. “Ginawa ko lang ‘yung pinapagawa ni coach. Nagtulong-tulong lang kami sa depensa talaga.”
Jalalon certainly brought the “ligang labas” mentality he vowed to bring to the playoffs.
“Sa rebound ko dinaan ‘yun. Maganda naipakita ko ngayon. Hindi ako zero point tapos nanalo pa kami,” Jalalon said. “Masaya kaming lahat.”