Kiefer admits Jalalon’s defense a factor in subpar game

Jiovani Jalalon defends against NLEX rookie Kiefer Ravena in
Game 2. Josh Albelda, ABS-CBN Sports.

MANILA, Philippines – After seeing how NLEX rookie Kiefer
Ravena dissected their defense in Game 1 of their PBA
Philippine Cup semifinals series, Magnolia guard Jiovani
Jalalon approached his coach with an idea.

Jalalon wanted to be the one to guard the prolific rookie, who
has taken the PBA by storm with his superb performances in just
his very first conference as a professional player.

“Sabi ko, ‘Coach, ibigay mo muna sa akin. Subukan ko lang,'”
Jalalon said.

Jalalon had seen how Ravena put up 16 points in Game 1, an
88-87 triumph for the Road Warriors. It was Ravena who created
the play that broke Magnolia’s back, when he assisted on Alex
Mallari’s go-ahead triple. Ravena then proceeded to ice the
game with a steal and a pair of free throws.

But Jalalon felt he could at least try to limit Ravena. He knew
the former Ateneo star very well, as they had played together
multiple times in international competitions and regularly
practiced together in the national team as well.

“Sabi ko sa sarili ko, positive lang ako, kung anong gagawin ko
sa depensa,” Jalalon said.

Jalalon got what he wished for: he was assigned to be Ravena’s
primary defender in Game 2. He did not let his coach down, as
the former Arellano guard harassed Ravena to a nine-point,
five-turnover performance. On the other end, Jalalon fired nine
points and dished out 10 assists, and Magnolia cruised to a
99-84 win to tie the best-of-seven series.

After the game, Ravena admitted that Jalalon’s defense had been
a factor in his poor showing.

“You have to give credit to the defense eh. I saw that
interview with Jio, the familiarity of him… that’s one of our
perks, playing alongside each other in Gilas,” Ravena said.

“The battles we played internationally, and the practices we’ve
had together – mayroon at mayroon ka talagang matututunan kung
paano ‘yung tendencies ng isang tao,” he added.

Ravena lauded Jalalon for his effort, especially upon learning
the Magnolia guard specifically asked for the assignment.

“Siguro inako niya na gusto niya talaga ako depensahan, kasi
kilala niya ako,” Ravena said. “But I’ll be ready. I’ll be more
ready on Wednesday.”

“I can’t be playing like this,” he added. “Especially in a
series na andito na kami sa semis, kung gaano ka-importante ito
sa amin.”

Jalalon, for his part, acknowledged that defending Ravena was a
tough job. “Ang taas talaga ng IQ eh, ‘di mo talaga siya
ma-stop,” he said of the former UAAP Most Valuable Player.

The young Magnolia guard said he will just continue to follow
instructions from their coaching staff, hoping that it will
work again on Wednesday.

“Sumunod lang talaga kami sa gusto ng coaches, kung anong
pinapagawa nila. Nagawa namin ngayon,” he said. “Malaking bagay
na nakuha din namin, nag-tie kami.”

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