Jio Jalalon’s near triple-double tows Arellano over San Sebastian

Prized playmaker Jiovani Jalalon continues to make life look so easy for top contender Arellano U.

The 6-foot Jalalon came two steals shy of a triple-double performance on Friday afternoon as the Chiefs coasted to a wire-to-wire 99-81 victory over the sloppy San Sebastian Golden Stags and gained a share of the lead in the 92nd NCAA seniors basketball tourney at The Arena in San Juan.

Upbeat following a joyful ride from their Legarda campus, Jalalon proved why he’s considered by many as the finest guard in the collegiate ranks today, piling up a personal season-high of 31 points, 11 assists and a career-best eight steals in a marvelous performance.

“Nag-enjoy kami sa bus dahil sa video na pinagawa ng ABS-CBN (official league coveror). Kaya pagbaba namin, naka-focus na agad ako,” said the proud Cagayan de Oro City native, who sparkled for 25 markers in their 83-78 win over fellow contender Perpetual Help over the weekend.

Jalalon’s backcourt partner, Kent Salado, also made his presence felt, collecting 17 points, six assists and five rebounds, while big men Dioncee Holts and Lervin Flores asserted themselves down low combining for 26 markers, 18 rebounds, six dimes and three steals, underscoring the Chiefs’ balanced attack.

But there was no denying Jalalon continued to serve as the catalyst in the Chiefs’ offensive machine, having scored 10 quick points in the opening canto that readily opened the floodgates for a sustained attack.

Veteran guard Ryan Costelo led three other San Sebastian teammates in double figures with 15 points on top of six rebounds and two assists but accounted for a game-high nine errors, underlining the Golden Stags’ game-long struggle against the Chiefs’ stymieing defense.

Overall, San Sebastian turned the ball over 37 times which Arellano U translated into 43 points, most of them off steals that led to easy baskets in transition.

But even with the result already beyond doubt, AU coach Jerry Codiñera refused to pull out Jalalon and his fellow starters.

“They want to gain their timing,” he said, referring to his top guns. “Importante kasi sa kanila na magamay ‘yung pressure defense. Matagal rin kasi magiging break namin kaya sinagad ko na muna sila.”

Alvin Capobres had 14 markers while Michael Calisaan and Allyn Bulanadi had at least 11 points but San Sebastian failed to come up with a fitting follow-up to its 54-49 win over St. Benilde last Sunday. – By Jerome Lagunzad

The scores:

ARELLANO U (99) – Jalalon 31, Salado 17, Holts 16, Flores 10, Enriquez 7, Meca 7, Canete 3, Aguilar 2, Cadavis 2, Gupilan 2, Viloria 2, Alcoriza 0, Gumaru 0, Nicholls 0

SAN SEBASTIAN (81) – Costelo 15, Capobres 14, Calisaan 12, Bulanadi 11, Ilagan 8, Fabian 5, Mercado 5, Serajosef 4, Valdez 4, Johnson 3, Baetiong 0, David 0, Gayosa 0, Miguel 0, Quipse 0

Quarterscores: 26-19, 46-39, 71-57, 99-81.