MANILA, Philippines – The Arellano Chiefs are the consensus favorite to win the NCAA Season 92 men's basketball championship, and their starting point guard, Jiovanni Jalalon, is arguably the biggest reason why.
Jalalon has recently earned a reputation as the best point guard in Philippine college basketball. He enters the upcoming NCAA season that begins on Saturday, June 25, as one of the top choices to win the league MVP award.
The talented two-way playmaker recently played point guard for the Philippine team that won gold in the 2016 SEABA Cup. Last NCAA season, Jalalon put up triple-doubles in the elimination round and was part of the Mythical Team, but his Chiefs failed to make the Final Four.
After winning the Father Martin’s Cup title and finishing second to La Salle in the Filoil preseason tournament, Arellano looks primed for a trip to the finals with a championship victory very possible.
"You can say that, yes," said Chiefs head coach Jerry Codiñera about Jalalon being college hoops' best point guard on Wednesday, June 22, during the NCAA Season 92 press conference at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
"Number one, he can run both systems," the former PBA player turned head coach explained.
"He can run the dribble-drive, he can run the Triangle System. He's a quick guard, he gets his assists, he can score any time at will, he has the heart, he is strong, [and] he's an excellent defender. So he has everything. He's young, 21, and he's driven."
Codiñera, who's entering his third year coaching the Chiefs, was hesitant to crown Jalalon as the NCAA MVP just yet, but does believe his starting point guard has a better chance of winning the top individual award this season.
"You cannot really say this is his season, but he has a better chance of getting it because of what we acquired – the rookies this year. We have decent rookies," Codiñera said, adding that more firepower will lessen the burden on Jalalon and produce more wins for the Chiefs.
"Winning an MVP [award] takes luck, it takes the right wins, the right combination," the coach said about Jalalon, who had 66 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds in Arellano's final two Filoil games this offseason.
On the Chiefs' opportunity to win Arellano's first NCAA seniors championship, Codiñera prefers to take a one-game-at-a-time approach.
"Considering we placed fifth last year, our main goal is to enter the Final Four first and to be more consistent in what we do as a team," he said.
"We look at it on a game-to-game basis, and hopefully we'll improve." – Rappler.com