Jalalon begs for time in stretch and saves Magnolia vs NLEX
Jio Jalalon begged for playing time during the most critical part of Magnolia’s PBA Philippine Cup campaign, and he responded by making huge plays that propelled his team to take another step in the championship drive.
The pesky guard came through in overtime and the Hotshots outlasted the upset-minded NLEX Road Warriors, 112-106, to win the deciding game of their best-of-three quarterfinal series at Mall of Asia Arena.
Jalalon delivered midway into the extra session, beating the shot clock with a triple using the glass—a conversion that looked more of a miracle—before assisting Calvin Abueva for a basket underneath that made it 108-100 with 1:15 left.
In the nightcap, Meralco finally ended its long playoff misery against Barangay Ginebra after hanging on for a 106-104 Game 3 win in their side of the quarterfinals.
Raymond Almazan’s gutsy three with exactly a minute to go proved to be the difference as the Bolts showed poise despite squandering a 21-point third quarter lead to finally beat the crowd favorites in a series after six failed tries.
Chris Newsome had a triple double with 21 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds and after Almazan hit the go-ahead three-pointer, the Bolts survived two Ginebra offensives to seal a semifinal clash with powerhouse San Miguel Beer.
Cliff Hodge drew an offensive foul from Scottie Thompson and made Stanley Pringle decide to go for a step-back jumper from 21 feet that hit the front of the rim as Meralco celebrated the momentous occasion.
“It just proves that when you’re relentless, anything can happen,” Newsome told the media minutes after while seated beside Luigi Trillo, who has called the shots for the Bolts for the last eight games with Norman Black away.
The Final Four starts on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jalalon’s performance came as he kept asking Magnolia coaches if he could get some taste of the action late in the fourth quarter when a spot in the best-of-seven semifinals against defending champion TNT was hanging in the balance.
“I told the coaches that I want to play because I couldn’t control myself being away from the floor. Good thing, they gave me a chance,” said Jalalon in Filipino.
He finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals as the Hotshots saw off the Road Warriors, who sent the series to a decider after a 90-77 win in Game 2 last Friday.
“I would like to say sorry to Jio because I kind of forgot about him during the fourth quarter,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said in Filipino. “But I told Jio to stay positive and that I will go to him and I’m happy that he was able to deliver.”
Next for Magnolia is a meeting with TNT in a rematch of last year’s Philippine Cup title series held in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Beaten handily in five games by the Tropang Giga during that showdown under a bubble setup, the Hotshots would like to make things more competitive this time.
“It’s a different battle, I mean, they are the defending champions,” said Victolero. “They beat us in the bubble and hopefully we can compete.”
The Hotshots’ stint in the All-Filipino almost ended when the Road Warriors took a 96-94 lead on Don Trollano’s triple, 1:34 left in the fourth. The lead was later extended to three when Calvin Oftana, who scored 32, made one of two free throws entering the final minute of regulation.
But Paul Lee rescued Magnolia down the stretch, taking advantage of an extra pass by Abueva to knock down a three from the right side with 11.1 seconds left to make it 97-all.
Magnolia took command at the start of the overtime and was up 103-100 when Jalalon took charge with his three-pointer and assist to Abueva.
Trollano gave NLEX life when he hit two triples in 15 seconds to cut Magnolia’s lead down to two, 108-106. But Abueva nailed two charities to make it a four-point game and Trollano muffed a three, which practically ended any hopes of a stunning turnaround. INQ