MANILA, Philippines – No Most Valuable Player was named for the 2017 SEABA Men's Championship when it concluded with the Philippines raising the trophy on Thursday, May 18.
It was difficult as well for coach Chot Reyes to choose. But point guard Jio Jalalon was a name he felt deserve to be mentioned.
"It's hard to name a single player because different players stepped up every ball game. But I really like the development and the play of Jio Jalalon," the comebacking national team coach said after Gilas Pilipinas took care of business against Indonesia, 97-64.
"I think that's a guy who is going to be really special for this program."
The 24-year-old Star Hotshots rookie had an underrated but impressive SEABA showing, averaging 7.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and two steals through the 6 games Gilas swept.
At one point, Jalalon led the tournament in assists but he finished just one dime shy of leading again, coming in second to Indonesia's veteran Mario Wuysang, who had 5.3 a game.
Jalalon, who was also second in steals, finished with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 6.2.
"Sobrang sarap pakinggan. Thank you coach Chot na sinabihan mo ako ng ganun (It's so good to hear. Thank you coach Chot for saying that)," Jalalon said.
Jalalon posted 6 markers with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and a steal in the gold medal game.
"Siguro 'yung hustle at defense ko," he tried to rationalize the MVP tag. "Nagki-create lang ako sa loob. ‘Di ko iniisip yung sarili ko, iinuuna ko 'yung mga kasama ko."
(Perhaps it's my hustle and defense. I create inside. I don't think of myself, I prioritize my teammates.)
Jalalon also received praise from senior guard Terrence Romeo, who has been mentoring the younger playmaker together with Jayson Castro.
"Grabe si Jio, talagang always ready, tapos lagi kang may makukuha sa kanya. Matalino maglaro, nandoon 'yung hustle niya," Romeo said.
"Every time pumapasok si Jio, siya 'yung pinagmumulan ng hustle namin, so ang laki tulong niya sa team."
(Jio is amazing, he's always ready, and you'll always get something from him. He's a smart player, his hustle is there. Every time Jio comes in he becomes the source of our hustle, so he's a big help to the team.)
The former Arellano University standout has been on the cadet squad for several years now and he is sure to progress in the coming years. The mentorship he's been receiving from the likes of Castro and Romeo will augment his growth.
"Itong game na 'to, sobrang sarap. Pangatlo kong SEABA, ito 'yung pinaka the best kong napakita kahit pangatlo ako sa guards," Jalalon said.
"Puso pa rin 'yung pinapakita ko kasi siyempre, nakikita ko lahat ng Pilipino sumusuporta sa amin. Sobrang sarap na nakasama ko sina kuya Jayson."
(This game feels so good. This is my third SEABA and it's my best showing even if I'm a third string guard. I just played my heart out because I see the Filipinos supporting us. It feels good to play alongside guys like Jayson.) – Rappler.com