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Jalalon energy sparks Hotshots

With his hustle and energy, Magnolia playmaker Jio Jalalon has been making a lot of heads turn as he emerged as one of the prime candidates for the Best Player of the Conference in the Commissioner’s Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association.

Hotshots head coach Chito Victolero said he wasn’t surprised after seeing the hardworking guard wound up fourth in the statistical derby behind stars like Robert Bolick of NorthPort, and Jamie Malonzo and Scottie Thompson of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

In the 12-game eliminations, the former Arellano star posted averages of 11.2 points, 6.2 assists. 4.7 rebounds and a tournament-best 2.4 steals per game to garner 30.4 statistical points.

But Victolero said Jalalon’s major contribution doesn’t reflect on the stat sheet.

“Had there been statistics when it comes to producing energy, Jio would have been the runaway winner,” Victolero told Daily Tribune in a telephone conversation.

“He could have been the leading candidate for the BPC.”

Victolero said with Jalalon’s energy and devil-may-care attitude inside the court helped them tremendously, serving as one of the key factors why they ended the eliminations with the second-best record behind Bay Area.

“I’m not surprised to see him being a strong candidate for the BPC. You can see the maturity in his game. Before, it was just Paul Lee and Mark Barroca,” Victolero said.

“Now, it’s Jio’s turn and I think he is at the peak of his playing career.”

With Jalalon supplying hustle and energy, the defense-minded Hotshots have once again put themselves in a better position to capture another title.

The last time they won the crown was in the Governor’s Cup in 2018, but they remain as heavy contenders, even advancing to the finals twice in the past seven conferences.

Victolero said he likes their chances despite the tough challenges being presented by the Dragons as well as reigning champion San Miguel Beer and powerhouse Ginebra.

“We like our chances,” said Victolero, whose team is armed with a twice-to-beat advantage against Phoenix Super LPG in the quarterfinal round on Friday at the Philsports Arena.

“But it’s going to be tougher, we all know that. We just have to work harder for it. A very crucial factor is the health condition of our players, but thank God, our players are healthy this time.”

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