TONY Mitchell was quick to give credit where it is due, deferring to rookie teammate Jio Jalalon as the real hero in Star’s scrambling 105-103 win over NLEX on Friday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The talented import carried most of the load for the Hotshots in the fourth period when the team appeared to be on the verge of collapse in the face of the Road Warriors’ comeback from a 51-30 deficit late in the second period.
Mitchell scored 15 of his 23 points in the final quarter and dished off the assist that set up Jalalon’s game-winner at the buzzer.
But the 24-year-old Mitchell acknowledged Jalalon is the one everybody should recognize for giving the team a hot 3-0 start to the conference.
“Jio made the shot. That’s all that matters,” said the import picked by the Detroit Pistons in the second round of the 2013 NBA draft. “It was a good game. It was fun.”
Mitchell was 7-of-15 from the field and grabbed 15 rebounds despite being plagued by foul trouble for most of the game.
Despite losing a 21-point lead, Mitchell credited the Hotshots for keeping their composure and not panicking.
“We kept ourselves composed throughout the game,” he admitted. “Even though we lost the lead, we knew how to play.”
Mitchell also praised NLEX counterpart and good friend Wayne Chism for playing well and ‘making shots against me.”
Chism finished with a team-high 33 points, including 21 in the second half. He was 10 of 17 from the field, had 19 rebounds, and five assists.
“I love Wayne Chism. That’s my brother. I’m glad he played well,” he said of the former Best Import while still playing for Rain or Shine. “Hopefully, they (Road Warriors) get a win the next game.”
But definitely not against the Hotshots, and Mitchell made sure of that.