MVP race leader Jio Jalalon hopes to rekindle old fire in Final Four

Star playmaker Jio Jalalon admitted the Arellano University lost the sharpness they’ve been parading all season long in the most crucial stretch of the 92nd NCAA men’s basketball tournament and addressed their need to refocus come the semis on Friday.

The Chiefs fell into the second spot, following a second straight loss against the San Beda College Red Lions in less than a week.

“Nawala na yung first [round of] elimination namin na sobrang teamwork namin. Lessons learned sa amin yun kasi tinalo namin sila last year dalawang beses din e, ito parang bounce back sa amin parang binawain,” Jalalon said after the 80-73 loss in their playoff match at the San Juan Arena on Tuesday.

“Sa semis kailangan naming makinig kaming lahat kasi ngayon nagkanya-kanya na kami e.”

The MVP candidate lauded the San Beda defense, after limiting him to only 14 points in their recent loss.

Jalalon led the league in scoring, averaging 21.4 points during the elimination round.

“Sobrang talino talaga ni coach Jamike (Jarin) at tsaka yung mga player niya sobrang ready talaga sa depensa. Yung nakikita ko din wala kaming masiyadong offense na zone kaya ayun kailangan naming mag-adjust,” he added.

“Tuwing nagda-drive ako siguro dalawa, tatlo yung maghe-help, naiisip ko din na kailangan kong i-give up yung bola, pero gini-give up ko minsan pero wala talaga, sobrang higpit ng depensa nila e.”

Jalalon admitted he was out of shape in their past few games and promised to get back in full condition before the start of semifinals.

“Pagdating ko sa semis kailangan kong magpa-kundisyon talaga kasi parang nawala na rin yung stamina ko e, siguro yun nga pagdating sa semis kailangan mag-practice ng maayos kasi ngayon parang nagrer-rely kami na hindi nakikinig sa coach, umano na yung mga ulo namin so parang siguro kailangan talaga naming mag-trabaho.”

Arellano will face Mapua on Friday and Jalalon said the Chiefs will just set aside all kinds of pain, for now. Jalalon himself suffered from two separate sprains in their last two matches against San Beda.

“Iniisip ko na lang kailangan naming trabahuin yung semis. di na namin iniisip yun [pagod] ngayon e. Ito na yung trabaho e nandito na kami sa goal namin nakapasok ulit kami sa final four,” he said. “Back to zero muna kami ngayon.” – By John Chester Fajardo

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