If given another chance to suit up for the Philippine national basketball team, Arellano star guard Jiovani Jalalon is more than willing to do so.
The 5-foot-9 Jalalon admitted to Fox Sports on Tuesday night that he is bent on suiting up the country’s tricolors—and put his dreams of playing in the pro league on hold—if and when he gets a call from the SBP, which is reportedly planning to revive the Gilas cadet program.
“First option ko ‘yun kung sakali kaysa mag-PBA,” said Jalalon after emerging from Caida’s dugout following their emphatic 118-86 victory over UP-QRS/Jam Liner in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Filoil-Flying V Arena in San Juan.
‘Ibang usapang na kasi ‘yun. Kapag national team kasi, dinala mo ‘yung bandera niyo, sobrang saya nu’n. Kahit sino namang player, gusto makapasok doon (national team). Siguro swerte na rin talaga ako kung sakaling mapunta ako doon,” said the Cagayan de Oro City native.
The 23-year-old spitfire made his first stint with the national team last year wheh he helped Sinag Pilipinas win the gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games in Singapore, with Gilas Pilipinas mentor Tab Baldwin calling the shots.
Another Gilas cadet prospect, former UST star Kevin Ferrer, said he intends to consult his family first before coming up with what he considers “a big decision.”
“Pagpaplanuhan pa lang namin ng family ko kasi big decision ‘yun. Kaya kailangan ko talagang kausapin sila,” said the 6-foot-4 Ferrer, who played alongside Jalalon and other fellow collegiate stars with Sinag Pilipinas, then boosted by naturalized center Marcus Douthit.
“Sobrang saya kasi ‘yung experience na nakuha ko du’n. Unang-una national team ‘yun at ire-represent ko ang bansa natin. Kaya malaking karangalan rin talaga. Tapos si coach Tab naman, maitatama ‘yung mga mistakes namin sa magiging matured ang laro ko,” added Ferrer.
While Ferrer has already utilized his 5-year playing eligibility with the Growling Tigers, Jalalon plans to return for his final tour duty with the Chiefs before shifting his focus on his future goals.
“Kung i-invite nila (SBP) ako, baka sakaling mag-tryout ako kasi open naman ako du’n (joining Gilas cadet program). Nagtatanong rin naman ako kay (Arellano U) coach Jerry (Codinera) kasi siya ang adviser ko,” concluded Jalalon. — By Jerome Lagunzad