Jiovani Jalalon collected 17 points and 11 assists and played almost 37 minutes, including the entirety of the second half, last Thursday.
Still, Arellano University fell for the first time in the season at the hands of defending champion Colegio de San Juan de Letran.
JP Calvo, Mcjour Luib, and Rey Nambatac all took turns standing as roadblocks for “The Bus Driver” who missed 14 of his 20 attempts from the field. At all times, Letran saw to it that there was a body right on who is unanimously regarded as the best guard in college today.
Clearly, the Knights’ activity on defense took its toll on the Jalalon who had no qualms about admitting that late in their heavyweight bout, he was running on empty. As he put it, “Nung huli, na-feel ko na yung pagod.”
He then continued, probing for a cause for his fatigue, “Mali rin siguro ng coaches na hindi nila ako nilabas. Humihingi na nga ako ng kapalit nung huli, kaso sabi ni (Kent) Salado, ‘Wag na. Baka lalo tayong matambakan.’”
In a separate interview, coach Jerry Codinera was quick to clarify why his main man had to be on the floor for all but three minutes of the game. “Hinahanap pa namin yung next guard na mag-step up kapag off sina Jio at Kent,” he said.
Indeed, no other backcourt Chief was close to effective against the famed walls of Intramuros. “The Conductor” Salado only mustered two points and one assist while all Ariel Aguilar, Donald Gumaru, and Kraniel Viloria combined for were nine points, two rebounds, and no assists.
The Legarda faithful need not worry, however, as Codinera pointed out that although many consider them to be the team-to-beat in the tournament, they have much to learn still. “First off, I never said that we were a complete team kahit sinasabi ng iba na kami ang favorites. I never said that we can dominate,” he said.
For his part, Jalalon vowed that he and the rest of Arellano will do nothing but bounce back the next time they take the floor on Tuesday up against still perfect Mapua Institute of Technology. “Babawi kami dyan. Kailangan namin na babawi kami dyan,” he expressed.
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