MANILA, Philippines – Jio Jalalon is still only 22 years old with a year left in college but he has already made quite an impression on Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin.
Baldwin sees a bright future for the young guard. But for now, Jalalon is seen as a valuable asset in practice to help the Philippine national team prepare for the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament this July.
“His quickness. His defensive prowess. He causes problems out on the floor,” Baldwin explained what he sees in Jalalon, whom he also coached as part of the Gilas cadets team that competed in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games.
“He’s so quick and he’s aggressive and he’s tough and that creates another element in the practices which simulates some of the things that we might run into when we start playing games.”
The Arellano University standout received the invitation to join Monday’s, March 14 Gilas practice via a text message from assistant coach Josh Reyes the night before.
He showed up with a lot of energy to give as he quickly immersed himself in the drills and plays Baldwin was teaching.
“He’s too quick for everybody. He’s a great example of forcing the Gilas players to be little bit sharper than they might be if there wasn’t such tough defense out there because Jio comes after you right away. He doesn’t know another way to play than ultra quick and ultra tough defensively,” Baldwin explained.
“That’s great for us, it really help us. You really have to like Jio if you’re a coach, he’s a coach’s player. He’s got a great work ethic, and he’s no non-sense.”
Jalalon joins Gilas cadets Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Ferrer, Mac Belo and Roger Pogoy serving as extra bodies for the weekly practices.
Baldwin, who noted more cadets may be coming to practice, explained he endorses player recommendations from other coaches.
“I’m very happy to be invited by coach Josh. When he texted me I immediately thought I wanted to go because I thought this was a rare opportunity,” said Jalalon, who is also currently playing for the Caida Tile Masters in the semifinals of the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup. “I learned a lot from the PBA players and what coach Tab is teaching.”
“This is a huge deal for me because I’m with the pros already,” he added.
Jalalon said his longtime idol is Jayson Castro, but FIBA Asia’s best point guard did not suit up for training Monday as he rested an Achilles injury. Jalalon instead had the opportunity to guard another idol in LA Tenorio, whom Jalalon even blocked in one play.
Jio Jalalon participating in scrimmages. He blocks LA Tenorio in this play @RapplerSports #Gilas pic.twitter.com/viePhjwSJa — Jane Bracher (@janebracher) March 14, 2016
“Swerte lang po yun. Tsamba lang (That was all luck),” he said of the block.
Jalalon, who is the lone youngster from the NCAA at Gilas so far, noted Letran’s Rey Nambatac could be good for Gilas as well. – Rappler.com