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Baldwin says Jalalon helps Gilas stay sharp

PBA (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--The Gilas Cadets who attend the regular Monday night practice of the Gilas seniors at the Moro Lorenzo Gym keep on increasing in number as the weeks go on.

The latest among the SEA Games gold medalists who showed up in training was Arellano and Caida star Jio Jalalon, who gained praises from Coach Tab Baldwin for giving the Nationals a lift in speed and agility.

"He's too quick for everybody. I think he's a great example of forcing the Gilas players to be a little bit sharper than they might be if there wasn't such tough defense out there, because Jio comes after you right away. There's no other way to play [against him] than be ultra quick and ultra tough defensively, and that's great for us. You have to like Jio. He's a coach's player. He has a great work ethic.... He has international-caliber quickness," Baldwin said about Jalalon to a group of sportswriters.

In fact, in one practice play, Jalalon got to block L.A. Tenorio, but the graduating King Chief was quick to downplay that defensive gem on the Ginebra star.

"Naswertehan lang po yun. Tsamba lang," Jalalon told a couple of media men after the practice.

However, Baldwin thinks Jalalon's quickness is not yet the gauge that will decide if Gilas can put up a gallant stand defensively against a known agile player in France's Tony Parker in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

"I don't think you can simulate a guy like Tony Parker.... If you don't have Tony Parker's brain, it's pretty hard to simulate Tony Parker, 'coz that's really what he brings to his teams. He's a great leader. He's a great general who runs their systems very well," the coach sees the San Antonio Spurs star about his contributions to the French team.

Still, Baldwin further said, "Jio does good things for us in his own right, and that's what we need right now."

On the things Jalalon can work on, Baldwin answered, "He needs to continue to improve his shot, particularly the speed of release, and then decision-making."

On the other hand, Jalalon's busy schedule with Caida, which is currently in the PBA D-League quarterfinals, and the offseason preparations of Arellano in the NCAA could make him unavailable in the next Gilas training sessions, but he clarified, "Pag free ako, pupunta naman ako dito."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno