As Jayson Castro sat out Gilas’ weekly Monday night practice with Achilles injury, in came another blur of a guard.
Jio Jalalon, the Arellano Chiefs’ quicksilver playmaker, did not think twice when he was invited to attend the Gilas’ practice.
“Sobrang saya ko at talagang grinab ko agad ang opportunity na makalaro ‘yung mga idol ko. Sayang nga lang injured si kuya Jayson, idol ko siya eh,” Jalalon told FOX Sports.
Like his idol, Jalalon packs explosiveness in both his ankles.
“Idol ko talaga siya at talagang ginagaya ko ang mga galaw niya. Sila ni idol LA Tenorio,” said Jalalon.
“Siguro dahil pareho kaming mabilis kaya nakukumpara ako sa kaniya pero marami pa akong dapat matutunan gaya dito sa Gilas kaya talagang nagpapasalamat ako at naimbitahan ako,” Jalalon said.
But while he was star-struck to be playing against them in the scrimmages, Jalalon morphed from a fan to a player once he stepped on the court.
“Idol ko talaga sila eh pero siyempre kailangan ko rin sila bigyan ng magandang challenge kaya kapag nasa loob ng court, seryoso dapat,” Jalalon said.
Arguably 1 of the best point guards out of college today, the Cagayan de Oro native was always flirting with triple-double in the NCAA and, just two seasons ago, led the Chiefs to the Finals earning him the Most Improved Player award. Jalalon even won a gold medal in the SEABA with the Gilas Cadets.
All those credentials warranted him an invite to join his Gilas cadet teammates Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer and Mac Belo among others in the national pool weekly practice.
While a spot in the men’s national team is still a stretch by now, Jalalon feels his time will come.
“Plano ko na rin sana mag-PBA kaso hinihintay ko rin ang sa (cadet program) SBP. Malabo pa sa ngayon (ang desisyon ko). Tingnan na lang natin kung ano ang mangyayari,” Jalalon said. – by Alder Almo
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo