Jalalon enjoying mentorship from Asia's best point guard Castro

MANILA, Philippines – Jio Jalalon is getting possibly the best mentorship from none other than Asia's best point guard Jayson Castro in the 2017 SEABA Championships here.

The 24-year-old Star Hotshots rookie playmaker is roomed with the veteran Castro at Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the entire Gilas Pilipinas national team is staying for the duration of the tournament. The setup is similar to what Castro had when he roomed with the retired Jimmy Alapag abroad in the past.

Their conversations inevitably include basketball and aspects of Jalalon's game to improve on. The former Arellano University standout also gets tips from another guard, Terrence Romeo.

"About [being] aggressive and defense, na next time sana 'di na ako mag-foul trouble agad kasi kailangan dumepensa 'pag wala sila eh," he shared with Rappler. (About being aggressive and defense, that I should stay away from foul trouble because I need to play defense when they're not on the court.)

The mentorship appears to be working so far with Jalalon currently leading the tournament in assists with 5.5 a game through 4 outings and playing an average of 15.3 minutes.

His assist-to-turnover ratio is at 7.3, which means Jalalon has done a good job at both distributing the ball and taking care of it.

"Alam ko 'yung role ko dito sa Gilas kasi lahat naman sila nakaka-shoot so ako na lang 'yung nagcre-create lagi," he said. "'Pag wala sila Kuya Terrence, si Jayson, ako na lang 'yung nagcre-create. Defender and creator ako dito."

(I know my role here in Gilas because all of them can shoot so I'm the one creating. When Terrence and Jayson aren't there, I create. I'm a defender and a creator.)

Castro is happy with Jalalon's performance so far and appreciative of his eagerness.

"Maganda. Alam naman natin 'yung kayang gawin ni Jio. At the same time fit siya sa system na dribble-drive. Sa defense naman, kaya niyang i-pressure court-to-court. Maganda, sana magtuloy-tuloy," said Castro.

"Sabi ko nga 'pag meron ka, hanapin mo rin 'yung shot mo para mag-isip 'yung depensa. Nakikinig naman. At kita mo naman na kaya niya."

(He's doing well. We all know what Jio is capable of. At the same time he's a fit for the dribble-drive system. On defense he can pressure court-to-court. It's good, I hope it continues. I told him that if he has an opportunity, he should look for his shot, too, so the defense will keep guessing. He listens. And you see that he can do it.)

Not too long ago it was still Castro learning from Alapag and LA Tenorio. Now, he's passing on the wisdom and growing into the role of grooming one of his future relievers.

"Kasi nung 2015, 'di pa rin ako 'yung pinakamatanda. Ngayon talagang ako na 'yung one of the veterans. Kailangan kong i-guide talaga at the same time turuan kung ano pang dapat ituro sa kanila."

(In 2015 I still wasn't the oldest on the team. Now I'm one of the veterans. I need to guide them at the same time teach them what is needed.)

Jalalon will take this experience back with him to the PBA, but also in the future as part of Gilas Pilipinas.

"Siyempre malaking experience para sa akin 'yun kasi magagawa ko rin 'yun pagbalik ko sa PBA kasi international 'to. Iba na. Hindi ko sila makakalimutan (Romeo and Castro), tsaka 'yung mga sinasabi and 'tinuturo nila sa akin."

(Of course this is a big experience for me because I can still do all of this back in the PBA. This is an international tournament. It's a big deal. I won't forget them and all they've taught me.) – Rappler.com