MANILA, Philippines – Jio Jalalon put up a masterclass to help Magnolia draw first blood against Alaska in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals, and it had a lot to do with the presence of teammate Mark Barroca.
The sophomore guard said he is just always trying to emulate the seven-year veteran after delivering a near triple-double of 7 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals in the Hotshots' 100-84 Game 1 win on Wednesday, December 5.
Like an avid fan, Jalalon marvelled at how Barroca stabilized Magnolia's ship just when it was crumbling down in the 4th quarter after leading by as much as 21 points.
As the Aces shaved their deficit to just 8 points midway through the final frame, Barroca took matters into his own hands and sparked a 9-0 spurt, wherein he scored 7 points, issued an assist and swiped two steals.
The run gave Magnolia a comfortable 93-76 lead with 3 minutes left, and Alaska never threatened a comeback again.
"['Y]ung nakita na 8 points yung lamang, parang nagalit na siya," said Jalalon. "Doon ko nakita 'yung dating Mark Barroca noong high school pa lang ako napapanood ko sa TV. Seven straight points sa kaniya? Sabi ko, iba."
(When our lead was cut down to just 8 points, he was already propably angry. That's when I saw the old Mark Barroca that I used to watch on TV when I was still in high school. He scored 7 straight points? He's really something.)
"Nakakahawa rin talaga si kuya Mark lalo kapag kami 'yung magkasabay dalawa. Ako nahahawa din talaga ako. Kung ano ginagawa niya, ginagawa ko din talaga."
(Kuya Mark really is contagious, especially when we are sharing the floor. Whatever he does, I also do them as well.)
The 26-year-old showed that against Alaska, whether it be as an aggressive playmaker or a pesky defender just like Barroca.
In the end, Jalalon finished with the highest plus-minus of a whopping +29.
"Siguro binigay ko lang talaga best ko kasi ito na 'yung second na finals appearance ko. 'Yung una, versus San Miguel so 'di ako nakatulong sa mga kuyas ko," he said of the Hotshots' All-Filipino finals loss to the Beermen this season.
(I just wanted to give it my best because this is my second finals appearance. The first one against San Miguel, I wasn't able to help my brothers.)
"Siguro ngayon, sabi ko nga noong press con, ibibigay ko best ko kahit anong mangyari."
(But now, just like I said in the press conference, I will give it my best no matter what happens.)