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Chito Victolero apologizes to Jio Jalalon for sitting out Q4 as OT takeover lifts Magnolia past NLEX

Jio Jalalon's overtime storm lifted the Hotshots past the Road Warriors. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--Jio Jalalon came alive for Magnolia in the overtime period of its PBA Philippine Cup knockout quarterfinal game against NLEX on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena, scoring or assisting on nine of the Hotshots' first 11 points to essentially put the game away.

However, Coach Chito Victolero wished he could have let Jalalon take over sooner, that is, in the fourth quarter when the scoring slowed down a bit.

Jalalon played only a shade over four minutes in the fourth period as Mark Barroca, who played the full quarter, and Paul Lee, who played eight and a half minutes in the canto, were the main men for the Purefoods franchise in the payoff period.

"I would like to say sorry to him dahil medyo matagal siya doon sa bench," said Victolero, who was beside Jalalon when he apologized to him during the post-game press conference.

However, he clarified that the situation during the fourth period prompted him to stick with Barroca and Lee most of the time at the guard spots.

"Hindi ko naman siya nakalimutan. Yung flow lang nung game. I don't know kung ano ang ima-match-up ko sa kanya. Actually, against NLEX, that's my dilemma. I have a bad matchup against NLEX," Victolero further said.

He added that he could not do his "killer" small-ball five where Jalalon, Barroca, and Lee play at the same time because of the Road Warriors' size advantage, especially in the wings.

"We have a hard time to match up on [Calvin] Oftana, [Don] Trollano. That's why we cannot do the three-guard combination," Victolero further said.

Lee, who according to Victolero is still on a minutes restriction, got his starter role back for Game 3 with Jalalon relegated to the bench again and Adrian Wong, usually, a two-guy, starting at the three spot.

Despite the adjustment to the starting lineup, Oftana exploded for 32 points, and Trollano added 22, including back-to-back triples right after Jalalon's showpiece that kept NLEX in the game.

However, despite Trollano's late scare, the decision to finally stick with Jalalon in overtime paid dividends.

"Merong nangyaring maganda, so Paul needs to sacrifice para lang imaging maganda ang takbo. I'm very thankful sa mga players ko because they understand the situation and the patience," Victolero further said.

Turning comedic, however, he added that Jalalon made him regret benching him in the fourth.

"Noong ginamit ko si Jio, he's ready. Sa mata pa lang, tinitignan ako: 'Coach, magsisisi ka kasi di mo ako ginagamit,'" Victolero said in jest.

The joke, however, was half-meant as Jalalon finished with 16 points, seven in overtime, seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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