Jalalon believes Arellano’s time will come
Less than a minute left in the biggest game of his career, Jio Jalalon was a picture of defeat. His hands were on his knees as he stared blankly on the floor.
Not long after, the proud Arellano guard fouled out. Head down, he made a slow and painful walk to the bench.
With still 35 seconds to go, the countdown to San Beda’s reign back to the top of the NCAA began and the brightest collegiate superstar faded into the background.
“We can’t blame ourselves because we had a good showing. We were able to reach our goal to make the finals but we didn’t get the trophy,” said Jalalon in Filipino on Tuesday after the Red Lions swept the Chiefs, 83-73, to clinch their ninth title in 11 years.
“Today is just not for Arellano. Arellano’s time will come.”
Jalalon just missed another triple-double with 19 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. But for all his undeniable brilliance, history will remember him as the player who couldn’t get it done in the game’s grandest stage.
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The same goes for Arellano which lived up to its label as the favorites with a 14-4 record at the end of the elimination round, but only to unravel when it mattered most. The Chiefs’ 14 wins are their most since joining the league in 2009, but they were 0-5 against the Red Lions this season.
“To me, it really hurts because we lost. But this is the best finals of my life and we can’t blame anyone. It’s just not for Arellano.”
The 24-year-old Jalalon has one year left with the Chiefs, but in the wake of anguish, he is uncertain of his future.
“I haven’t decided yet. I still don’t what’s going to happen with my life.”
Regarded as the best local player in collegiate basketball today, Jalalon is faced with a lot of options in terms of where he wants his promising basketball career to take him next.
He could stay and make one last run at an NCAA title. If he opts to forego his final playing year and take the jump to the PBA, he’s easily a top five pick among the likes of Ray Parks, Kiefer Ravena and Mac Belo if they end up in the same draft class. Playing for the national team is another path available for Jalalon.
“Going pro is still not in my mind but I still don’t know if I’m going to return to Arellano. My mind is not clear yet at this point. I guess I need more time to really think about it,” said Jalalon, who is part of the latest Gilas Pilipinas pool.
“I really haven’t decided on it clearly. I don’t know if I can leave Arellano because playing for Arellano means so much and it has helped me a lot. I don’t know if I’ll go to the PBA because I’m also thinking about my family and how I’m going to provide for them.”