ANTIPOLO - Jio Jalalon's heartbreak stretch finally came to an end on Wednesday night.
Always coming up short when it comes to championship series since his college days, the former Arellano playmaker finally went all the way as Magnolia ruled the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup by beating Alaska in the finals.
The Cagayan de Oro-born dribbler, who also figured in controversy when he was caught punching Australian player Nathan Sobey in a brawl that marred a July World Cup qualifier, for which he was suspended for five games by Fiba, was overcome with emotions over his first PBA title.
"Di ako makapagsalita eh. Grabe, grabe talaga. Sobrang sarap pala sa pakiramdam na makakuha ka ng ganitong panalo," said the Hotshots guard in the din of the celebration over the franchise's first championship in four years.
Since entering the league via the special Gilas draft in 2016, Jalalon was perennially in the playoffs but got as far as the Finals just twice, the last in the 2018 Philippine Cup where the Hotshots lost to San Miguel.
The pain of those heartbreaks were washed away on Wednesday night.
"Yung paghihirap namin lahat, ito na. Lagi kaming nagse-semis, naka-isa kaming finals pero di namin nakuha. Pero ngayon, binigay ni God, para sa amin talaga. Yung hardwork naming lahat, nagbunga na," he said.
Jalalon said the birth of his daughter Jiana Skyla back in September served as an inspiration to work harder on his game.
"Yung baby ko talaga ang sobrang nag-inspire sa akin. Paglabas niya, parang lalo pa akong ganadong magtrabaho para sa kanya, para hindi ko mapabayaan ang family ko. Thankful talaga ako na dumating siya. Gift siya ni God para sa akin," he said.
A sparkplug off the bench, Jalalon averaged 8.41 points, 5.18 rebounds, and 5.73 assists in the season-ending conference and was efficient in the title-clinching Game Six win, where he poured in 11 points, five assists, and four rebounds in the Hotshots' 102-86 victory over the Aces.
Through it all, Jalalon is just happy to be part of Magnolia, one which he hopes will be his home until the time he retires.
"Grabe yung chemistry naming lahat. Pinagtrabahuhan talaga namin para makuha namin to. Sobrang thankful ako na napunta ako sa team na ito, na champion team. Ito na yung pamasko naming lahat," he said.
"Tingin ko, ito na yung magpapahaba ng career ko."