Marc Pingris glad to have rookie Jio Jalalon on his side: 'Malayo mararating niya'
 “Masipag na bata,” Star veteran Marc Pingris says of rookie Jio Jalalon. “Tapos pag sinabihan mo, talagang nakikinig siya." Jaime Campos

AS a defensive lynchpin, Marc Pingris is glad to have another one who he can count on doing the dirty work at Star in Jio Jalalon.

A three-time Defensive Player of the Year awardee, Pingris praised the Hotshots rookie sensation who picked the pocket of an NLEX player five times in their 99-75 win over the Road Warriors in the PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Wednesday night.

Jalalon also came through offensively with 17 points in 24 minutes after averaging just 12 markers in his first two games.

“(Impressed ako) sa laro niya, lahat,” Pingris said. “Masipag na bata.”

“Tapos pag sinabihan mo, talagang nakikinig siya,” he added of the 24-year-old playmaker. “Madali siyang mag-adjust eh. Alam ko malayo pa yung mararating niya.”

[See Paul Lee pays respect to Ninong Yeng - then proceeds to dismantle his NLEX side]

Pingris was dependable as usual on the defensive end against NLEX as he collared nine rebounds, one block, and one steal, on top of six points in 29 minutes off the bench.

But it was the small lineup led by Jalalon, Paul Lee, and Mark Barroca that did most of the damage in forcing the Road Warriors to commit an unacceptable 31 turnovers.

Jalalon's impressive play against his team naturally riled NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.

“Talagang gusto namin pasikatin mga rookies,”  Guiao said in jest after also letting freshmen Carl Cruz and Ed Daquioag deliver for Alaska and Meralco, respectively, when they faced the Road Warriors.

“Before this game, I told them that na parang ang nangyayari na lang eh we either underestimate the rookies, we do not respect their game. We have to respect their game, but apparently, in this third game, ganun pa rin."

“But yung nangyari naman, they all played a good game,” he added of the Hotshots. “Hindi lang ang problema namin yung rookie; problema namin si Paul, sila Barroca, (Allein) Maliksi, Aldrech (Ramos), so overall, we played a bad game.”

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Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos