RJ Jazul is making sure that the absence of JVee Casio is hardly felt as he has been running Alaska’s offense with aplomb in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Filling in for Casio, the Aces starting point guard who has been sidelined since halfway through the elimination round due to a knee injury, Jazul continued his solid playmaking by delivering the biggest plays for the Aces in Game One of the semifinals against Meralco.
The underrated sixth-year playmaker tied a season-high with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including the go-ahead left-handed layup and bonus free throw with less than five minutes left in the Aces' 97-94 win.
“Syempre sobrang halaga nun,” Jazul said on stepping up in Casio’s absence. “Kahit naman sino – ako, si Ping (Exciminiano), si Chris (Banchero), kami yung nagtutulungan sa point.”
“Ang mahalaga lang, wala kaming turnover masyado at i-set up yung teammates namin ng maigi. Basta tulong-tulong lang kami hanggang matapos.”
Jazul bounced back after firing blanks in the quarterfinals where he made just four of his 27 attempts for a dismal 14.8 percent against Tropang TNT.
“He saw some shots fall, which was nice because he’s actually a great shooter, but there have been a couple of games where he struggled with his shot,” Aces coach Alex Compton said.
Jazul also shone on defense with three steals and a handful of deflections on Arinze Onuaku in the times he helped out to double team the Bolts import.
“RJ’s been great,” Compton said. “He’s a character kid, he’s tough, he’s a winner, he’s committed to the team.”
Jazul and Banchero have been taking turns as the primary court general, while Exciminiano has taken on a secondary role.
“It’s a tag-team, him (Jazul) and Chris, who’s manning the point for us now,” Compton said. “I think they’ve filled in admirably.”
“I don’t know how much you, guys, get out of JVee Casio when you talk to him, but he’s seriously one of smartest basketball minds in our league and everybody misses him,” he added.
“But that’s just part of basketball – somebody goes down, so somebody has to make plays.”