Asked who has the better crossover move between Arellano U star playmaker Jiovani Jalalon and sophomore guard Kent Salado, Chiefs coach Jerry Codiñera struggled to make his choice.
“Parehong magaling ‘yun,” he said following Arellano U’s 79-72 victory over Emilio Aguinaldo College on Wednesday in the 2016 Filoil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup at the Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
His bold answer virtually sums up Codiñera’s latest dilemma with the Chiefs’ prized backcourt tandem. But that’s a kind of problem he is willing to deal with.
“At least sa backcourt hindi na ako magwo-worry,” he said. “Unlike sa other teams, ‘yun ang problema nila di ba?
The 5-foot-9 Jalalon took charge anew on the offensive end, tallying 18 points, spiked by three triples, on top of three rebounds and one assist while Salado, his fellow Cagayan de Oro native, came off the bench, collecting five markers, three boards and as many dimes in the Chiefs’ methodical win over the Generals.
Known as the “Defense Minister” in the pro ranks for his imposing defensive presence during his heyday, Codiñera added the vast improvement of Salado courtesy of his stint with the Sta. Lucia Realtors in the Pilipinas Commercial Basketball League is making him find a way to maximize his potential amidst the presence of Jalalon.
“Hirap ako medyo kasi starting guard siya sa PCBL which is a highly-competitive league. He’s a high-scoring guard there,” noted Codiñera. “Kaya minsan I have to split Salado and Jiovani. Kailangan paghiwalayin. But at the end of the day, kailangan pagsamahin sila. That’s why I try to balance. Kailangan rin kasi ma-sustain ‘yung firepower hanggang sa dulo.”
In last year’s NCAA cage wars where the Chiefs finished fifth overall, Jalalon averaged team-highs of 18.83 points and 9.61 assists on top 6.94 rebounds and 2.44 steals while Salado had 9.39 markers, 4.28 boards, 3.61 assists and 1.83 steals per game.
While he is convinced the dynamic tandem of Jalalon and Salado will deliver as they try to make it back to the Final Four in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney that gets going in June, Codiñera believes the other Chiefs should also take it upon themselves to provide solid support.
“Pwede pa rin naman sila pagsabayin. Kasi proven naman ‘yung dalawa, they will always deliver. Pero ‘yung iba, kailangan mag-complement,” he said, adding the Chiefs remain a work in progress collectively in terms of sustaining their consistent form.
“I don’t know kung gaano kami kalakas. Iba-iba kasi ‘yung talents and strengths that they can give,” said Codiñera.
“But for us to be formidable, to be a contender and competitive, kailangan ‘yung consistency. ‘Yun ang hinahanap namin sa bawat isa sa kanila. I can make plans from their consistency. I cannot think that far or mag-ambisyon. Doon ang basis ng planning ko sa consistent performance nila.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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