The CDO Combo: Inside Jio Jalalon and Kent Salado’s friendship

Ceej Tantengco on Sep 14, 2016 10:45 AM
The CDO Combo: Inside Jio Jalalon & Kent Salado’s friendship
“Sa buong Arellano, kami ni Jio ‘yun pinaka-best friends,” says Salado.

Jio Jalalon and Kent Salado of the Arellano Chiefs form NCAA Season 92’s most formidable backcourt duo. The quick and heavy-scoring Jalalon, whom everyone from Jamike Jarin to Tab Baldwin to Aldin Ayo recognizes as “the best point guard in college,” matches the aggressive, confident Salado, who has been reliable with the clutch threes all season.

If you’ve ever watched an Arellano game and felt surprised at how the pair can find each other on the court, with quick plays and seemingly unlikely passes—you can thank their off-court connection.

“Sa buong Arellano, kami ni Jio ‘yun pinaka-best friends,” says Salado.

It all began when the two still lived in Cagayan de Oro. “Nasa public school ako, tapos siya naman nasa private school,” recalls Salado. He was attending Misamis Oriental General Comprehensive High School, while Jalalon was at Sacred Heart High School. Rey Nambatac and McJour Luib of the Letran Knights, and Dan Sara of San Beda Red Lions went to Sacred Heart as well, and the boys would all see each other at small-time leagues in the province.

“Magaling na [si Jalalon] noon pero ang laki ng ginaling niya simula nang nag-Arellano kami,” Salado remembers, adding with a laugh, “Dati chubby-chubby pa ‘yan!”

Jalalon was the first to come to Manila to play for the Chiefs. When Coach Jerry Codiñera wanted to recruit Salado, the combo guard says knowing his old friend was on the team made it easier to say yes. “Syempre, iniisip ko na noon na may kababayan akong makakasama,” recalls Salado.

Fast forward a few years, and the CDO boys have taken over Manila. Nambatac and Luib became champions last year. Sara is the team captain of the Red Lions. And Salado and Jalalon are enjoying their space at the top of the NCAA Season 92 standings—and the idea that this season is Arellano’s best shot at the championship in years.

When they aren’t at the games, Salado and Jalalon like to grab meals together, watch movies, and go on double dates with their girlfriends. One thing you might not know about them, Salado says, is that they like to dance.

“Si Jio pinakamakulit!” laughs Salado. “Basta makarinig ‘yan ng music sa practice o kahit saan, sasayaw na ‘yan.”

The two are inseparable, and they even have matching nicknames—Jalalon is “The Bus Driver,” and Salado is “The Conductor.” But what happens when Jalalon graduates and moves on to his awaited stint with Gilas?

Try to tease Salado by saying “mapo-promote ba ‘yung Conductor?” and he just laughs.

“Hindi ko naman mapapalitan [si Jalalon]. Iba siya eh,” he says. “Pero ‘yung energy at commitment niya sa team, ‘yun ang gusto kong ipagpatuloy.”

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Ceej Tantengco is a courtside reporter with the NCAA. Watch the games live every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday on S+A or livestream here. Follow this writer on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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