ALWAYS the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
That's how Jio Jalalon's basketball career has been dating back from his collegiate days with Arellano and in his first finals appearance with Magnolia. But the cat-quick guard refuses to label these losses as failures but rather as learning experiences.
With Magnolia meeting Alaska in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup Finals, the 26-year-old playmaker has a chance to change that narrative for the better as he eyes his first championship in the pro league.
"Simula college pa lang pati pagpasok ko dito noong rookie ako, ang dami ng lesson learned. So siguro, ito na yung best chance para maipakita ko kung ano ang kaya ko para sana makamit ko na yung first championship ko," he said.
Jalalon has always been on the short end of the stick when it comes to title games.
The Cagayan de Oro native was the star of the Arellano squads that reached two NCAA Finals in three years, yet bowed to San Beda both times. The sophomore guard also got his first taste of the finals air in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup, only to see the Hotshots fall to San Miguel in five games.
Those heartbreaks, Jalalon said, made him a better player and will serve as motivation ahead of the best-of-seven series against the Aces.
"Alam nating mahirap talaga makakuha ng championship o makaabot man ng finals. Hindi talaga basta-basta. Kaya para sa akin, ibibigay ko lang best ko kahit anong mangyari," said the former Gilas Pilipinas guard.
Unlike Jalalon's past championship experiences, his optimism is drawm from the fact that unlike San Beda and San Miguel, Alaska is not much of a favorite in this series.
"Iba talaga ang San Beda at iba ang San Miguel. Pero sabi nga nila, magandang series ito. Both teams pareho lang ng style, so makikita natin na walang advantage na mangyayari," he said.
"So para sa aming mga players, buwis buhay at trabaho lang."