MAC Tallo couldn’t be any happier to be back on the court after six months of inaction.
“Syempre talagang excited. First actual five-on-five game ko after six months, nag-dasal lang ako at nag-relax. Pinakita ko kung anong kaya kong gawin lang muna, at the same time, finollow ko lang kung anong sinasabi nila coach sa defense,” he said on Friday.
Tallo, the 10th pick in the 2017 PBA Draft, was impressive in his first game with NLEX, wounding up with 11 points, three assists, three steals, two blocks, and a rebound in his 19 minutes of action.
However, his debut with the Road Warriors ended up in a loss, with Alaska taking the 120-111 victory.
The game result, though, was irrelevant as Tallo’s return to the court could already be considered a success in its own right. After all, the Cebuano guard was diagnosed with latent tuberculosis which cost him almost half a year into his rookie season in the pro league.
“Nahirapan ako huminga eh. Nagka-latent TB ako. Di naman siya contagious pero pina-rest lang talaga ako ng two months at nag-gagamot ako,” he shared.
The time-off also presented its own challenges for Tallo, who aside from finding himself out of rhythm, also gained weight and got to as heavy as 94 kilograms.
But being the professional that he is, he tried to pick up the pieces and got his bearings back, trimming down to 85 kilograms.
Tallo’s stroke of luck also continued when hard-luck NLEX, fresh from losing top guards Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas, picked him up from the free-agent pool to bolster its backcourt, leading to where he is today.
As promising as his first game with the Road Warriors was, Tallo knows that he’s still far from the peak form he desires.
“Kinakapa ko pa yung sarili ko. Nakikita ko na kulang pa talaga ako sa kundisyon,” he admitted. “Pero ngayon na 100 percent na ako, tuloy-tuloy lang sana yung laro ko and learn from my mistakes. Yun lang muna ang iisipin ko, to be consistent every night.”
Tallo, though, would be the first to temper anyone’s expectations expecting him to make up for the productions NLEX lost from Ravena and Alas.
“Hindi naman ako Kiefer Ravena maglaro. Hindi naman ako Kevin Alas maglaro. I’m more of a pass-first point guard and they’re more of scorer than me. I’m not really pressured,” he said.
Rather, Tallo maintains his focus on himself, especially as the Road Warriors eye a big finish in their final assignments against San Miguel and Magnolia whether they make it to the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs or not.
“Medyo tumaas naman yung confidence ko after this game kasi nawawala na yung jitters ko, yung kaba, at yung gigil. Sana tuloy-tuloy na lang talaga yung magandang laro ko,” he said.