“Ano ba yan! Two out of three possessions, turnover si Jalalon!”
Those words shot out of the mouth of Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes around halfway through the third quarter of their loss to Canada. He immediately summoned Kiefer Ravena to re-enter the game and impose order.
Gilas had 26 turnovers in the match, something that obviously displeased the lead mentor. He already called the boys out on it at the half, when they had 16. Of the team’s total, Jio Jalalon was responsible for seven.
“Sobrang nakakainis,” the young guard said hours after the game. “Isipin mo, seven turnovers. ‘Yun na yata pinaka-pangit na laro ko sa buong career ko.”
Jio rose to stardom when he was in college. Playing for Arellano, people got used to him filling up the stat sheet. And while he did have a high turnover average, seven was a number that completely disgusted him.
“Dati parang hanggang mga tatlong error lang ako. Sagad na ‘yun. Never umabot ng ganito,” said Jalalon, taking the moment to express his frustration.
Jio is not your typical player. While most consider a starting spot as a sign of supremacy, it’s not something that Jalalon aims for. In fact, he’d rather come off the bench. He feels that he gets a better read of the game by watching the first few minutes from the sidelines.
But as one of the experienced leaders of a young squad, a starting role was one of the responsibilities that Coach Chot bestowed upon him.
“This is his first time to be with Gilas where he’s one of the lead guards, as opposed to playing back up to Jayson [Castro] and Terrence [Romeo],” assistant coach Jimmy Alapag justified. “Jio had some turnovers that were uncharacteristic of him. But it’s all part of the learning experience.”
Jalalon has had numerous battles with Gilas. And he’ll many more in the future. Right now, he has two choices: mope over one bad game or take the positives out of it and bring those with him in the hundred more battles to come. He’s wise enough to know which one to choose.
“That’s exactly why we’re here,” assistant coach Jong Uichico told his fellow mentors at the end of the game. “These are the young guys. They’re here to learn. If we sent the veterans, maybe they didn’t make that many turnovers.”
Those were the perfect words to encapsulate Gilas’ first game in Taiwan. It wasn’t the result we wanted. But eventually, we’ll put together the bits and pieces of wisdom we’ve collected and we’ll see these heartbreaks bear good fruits.
Jio Jalalon, along with the rest of this young Gilas Pilipinas, joined the Jones Cup to learn and gain experience. That’s what he got in his very first game. With eight more games on their schedule, there’ll be lots more to learn for Jio and his crew.
Even the legendary Jimmy Alapag believes that Jalalon’s best days have yet to come.
“He’ll get better. I have no doubt about that,” he said.
Gilas Pilipinas plays Chinese Taipei A on Sunday at 7:00PM. The game will be shown live on TV5 and livestreamed on sports5.ph.