ON the eve of Game 3, Jio Jalalon was challenged by Magnolia coach Chito Victolero to turn the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals into his own star turn.
Jalalon was up to the challenge.
The former Arellano star came up with his best scoring performance this season, finishing with 25 points built around four triples to lead the Hotshots to a crucial 106-99 win over NLEX on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Two days after flirting with a triple-double and doing an excellent defensive job on NLEx super-rookie Kiefer Ravena, Jalalon unleashed his full offensive arsenal to set the tone for his squad.
Jalalon made 10 of his 13 attempts while making four of his five three-point attempts. Five rebounds and three steals rounded out an impressive, game-long performance.
“Magka-text kami kagabi and I told him na in order to establish himself sa PBA, he needs this series para kahit papaano makuha yung momentum niya and confidence,” said Victolero.
"Thankful and happy na nag-respond si Jio sa challenge ko," he added.
That conversation with his head coach certainly boosted the confidence of Jalalon, who has struggled to gain consistency while juggling duties with the Hotshots and Gilas Pilipinas.
“Nung pagkatapos ng game sa MoA, minessage niya ako. Dun tumaas yung tingin ko sa sarili ko. Pasalamat ako kay coach Chito na binigyan niya ako ng tiwala. Nagagawa ko na rin yung talent ko dito sa semis,” said Jalalon.
“Sana magtuloy-tuloy pa to. Kasi di pa namin nakukuha yung defense namin."
His outside shooting has always been the weak link in his game - the reason Jalalon continues to put in the work in practice and in pre-game shootarounds.
“Grabe yung pina-practice ko talaga kasi siyempre halos lahat ng point guards nakakatira ng three points, iniisip ko sa sarili ko na kailangan ko pag trabahuhan 'to,” said Jalalon. “Maaga ako nagpunta dito. Positive lang yung ginawa ko."