MANILA, Philippines – Magnolia guard Jio Jalalon could not find the words to explain his euphoria after helping the Hotshots win the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup title.
Jalalon had 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists in the Hotshots' 102-86 victory over the Alaska Aces in Game 6 last Wednesday night, which clinched for them their first PBA crown since 2014.
"Hindi ako maka-ano eh. Grabe … grabe lang talaga," an ecstatic Jalalon said after the game.
The championship represented a breakthrough for Jalalon, who had struggled to reach the mountaintop even during his time with Arellano University in the NCAA.
Jalalon helped Arellano reach the finals in Seasons 90 and 92, but lost each time to San Beda University via sweep. Along the way, he earned a reputation as the best point guard in collegiate basketball.
Selected by the Hotshots in the 2016 PBA Rookie Draft, Jalalon had a solid freshman year in the professional league. He helped them reach the finals of the All-Filipino Cup earlier this season, but they bowed to San Miguel Beer in five games.
This time around, they finally reached the summit, and Jalalon could not contain his happiness.
"Sobrang sarap pala sa pakiramdam na makakuha ka ng ganitong panalo. 'Yung paghihirap namin lahat eto na," he said.
"Lagi kaming nagse-semis, naka-isa kaming finals. Pero 'di namin makuha. Pero ngayon, binigay ni God," he added. "Para sa amin talaga. 'Yung hard work namin, lahat nagbunga na."
For Jalalon, the championship was also the perfect gift for him and his growing family this year. He and his wife, Kristina, had welcomed their daughter in September, and Jalalon said their baby only motivated him further to succeed in basketball.
"Paglabas niya parang lalo pa 'kong ganadong magtrabaho para sa kanya, para hindi ko mapabayaan family ko. Thankful ako na dumating siya. Gift ni God para sa 'kin," he said.
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