As he granted selfies to fans outside the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday night, Arellano U star Jiovani Jalalon’s smile still couldn’t hide the pain of another failed title campaign in the NCAA seniors basketball tournament.
Jalalon struggled to lead the Chiefs to the title against the Red Lions’ stymieing defense despite finishing with an all-around performance of 19 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds before fouling out late in regulation.
“Sa akin, sobrang nakakasama ng loob kasi natalo kami,” the 5-foot-10 Jalalon, his voice cracking, told FOX Sports after Arellano U suffered a 73-83 victory in Game 2, allowing host San Beda to complete its redemption back to the top in the 92nd NCAA seniors cage wars.
A member of the league’s Mythical Team for the second straight season, Jalalon though felt partly satisfied even if the Chiefs got foiled for the second time in the last three years.
“Wala kaming sisishin sa amin kasi maganda ang ipinakita namin ngayon. Nakarating kami sa goal namin (to make the finals) pero hindi namin nakuha ‘yung trophy. Kumbaga hindi talaga para sa Arellano U ang araw na ‘to,” he stressed. “Darating rin ang araw na makukuha ng Arellano.”
Arguably the finest guard in the country’s collegiate ranks today, Jalalon, 24, admitted he’s facing an uncertain future as he ponders whether to make another tour of duty with Arellano U or make the big jump to the pro league.
“Hindi ko pa alam kung anong mangyayari sa buhay ko. Hindi pa ako nakakapag-desisyon,” he said.
“Hindi pa talaga ako nakakapagdesisyon ng maayos. Hindi ko pa alam kung iiwan ko na ‘yung Arellano kasi napakalaking bagay ng naitulong nila sa akin. Hindi ko rin alam kung mag-PBA ako. Kasi iniisip ko rin naman ‘yung family ko, kung paano ko sila bubuhayin. Siguro kailangan ko pa ng oras para mas makapag-isip talaga.”
While they encountered little problems in terms of their offensive execution, Jalalon said the Chiefs’ porous defense against the Red Lions was the main culprit.
“Nakikita ko ‘yung effort namin okay pero may konting kulang sa depensa. Binigay naman lahat ng coaches, pero sa aming mga players na lang ang pagkukulang,” he stressed. – By Jerome Lagunzad