ARELLANO star Jiovani Jalalon will have to walk a tightrope as he vows to limit his fouls while staying aggressive on defense when the Chiefs fight for dear life against San Beda in Game Two of the NCAA men’s basketball Finals on Wednesday.
Standing at the forefront of Arellano's suffocating full-court press, the cat-quick playmaker sparked a fightback that saw the Chiefs come within five points, 56-61, after his steal and breakaway layup with a little over six minutes left.
Jalalon, however, fouled out the next possession later and helplessly sat on the bench when the Red Lions put the wraps on a 74-66 win.
“Dapat hindi na lang ako nag-foul ng nag-foul kasi kailangan ako sa court,” the league’s Most Improved Player and Mythical team member said in a chat with Spin.ph a day after the loss. “Sinisi ko din yung sarili ko. Pero hindi ko naman maibabalik yun eh.”
“May downside rin pag sobrang aggressive,” Chiefs coach Jerry Codiñera said as Jalalon tallied nine points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with six boards, five assists, and one steal in 20 minutes before fouling out.
“Vital part siya ng team namin.”
What the sophomore point guard can do is to play honest defense.
But he is also facing a dilemma as he badly wants to shackle Lions counterpart Baser Amer, who scattered a game-high 17 points built on four triples, on top of seven assists and five rebounds.
“Minimize ko na lang talaga fouls ko … pero kailangan bantayan rin si Amer,” Jalalon said.
“Na-stop na namin si Ola (Adeogun) eh, so ako na lang siguro babantay kay Amer,” he added. “Dapat hindi talaga siya makahawak ng bola, kasi pag naka-create siya, wala na eh.”
Amer often found Adeogun, who threw his weight around on the way to a 14-point, 14-rebound, and four-block performance.
Jalalon felt he could’ve helped the Chiefs come closer had he managed to stay on the court.
“Siguro mas maganda chance namin ‘nun,” he said.
Now, he has to forget the past and focus on what’s ahead.
“Bakbakan na ito,” he said. "Magpapalitan kami ng mukha, kasi pag natalo kami wala na. Gusto rin namin mag-champion.”