HE seriously considered quitting basketball two years ago, but a lot has changed since and Jio Jalalon declared himself ready for bigger challenges.
“Gusto kong maging leader ngayon,” said Jalalon, who hopes to tow the Arellano Chiefs to the NCAA title a year after settling for second place last season.
That run to the finals and recently a stint with the national team has changed the outlook of Jalalon, who is much more mature and determined than the player who considered walking away from basketball following a disappointing 2013 that saw him average just 4.7 points in 18 minutes.
“Rookie ako sa NCAA, nado-down ako na parang sabi ko, 'Hindi ata para akin ‘yung basketball,” said Jalalon.
But in his sophomore year with the Chiefs, his numbers soared to 12.9 points and a team-best 5.9 assists per outing en route to the Most Improved Player trophy in Season 90.
Those were numbers that the national basketball federation couldn’t overlook and the player from Cagayan de Oro City got an invite to the tryouts and later made the Gilas cadets squad that won the Southeast Asian Basketball Association championship and the SEA Games gold medal.
“Sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘Puwede ’to. Basta practice lang, go hard.’ Ayun, nasama ako,” Jalalon said.
“Sobrang saya ko kasi nakasama ko ’yung mga magagaling sa UAAP tapos hindi ko rin inexpect na makakasama ako dito. Siguro ’yung nagpursige ako, blessing ni God sa akin,” said Jalalon.
With veteran John Pinto’s exit, Jalalon has taken on a bigger role with the Chiefs.
“Kinausap ko sila nung team building namin na pagdating sa NCAA, tulung-tulong kami. May mga bago rin kaming players kaya kailangan naming magtulungan,” Jalalon said.