Jiovani Jalalon played big on defense and played even bigger down the stretch as he drilled the game-winning jumper to carry Star over NLEX, 105-103, Friday in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Arellano rookie fired the baseline jumper at the buzzer, off a timely pass from import Tony Mitchell and past the defense of Garvo Lanete to preserve the Hotshots’ immaculate 3-0 record.
“We needed to make a stop and if we recover, we wanted to go for Paul (Lee) or Jio. But Paul created the situation and it was a nice pass from Tony (Mitchell) to Jio,” said coach Chito Victolero of the game-winning play.
Jalalon did it all for Star with 16 points, six boards, four assists, and four steals, including the huge rebound off a Rabeh Al-Hussaini miss in the final 30.0 seconds which led to the team’s game-clinching possession.
Allein topped the Hotshots with 24 markers and six boards, but went 10-of-22 from the field.
Import Tony Mitchell also caught fire late, unfurling 15 of his 23 points in the payoff period, alongside 15 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks, while Peter June Simon added 13 markers in the win.
Dazzling in the first half, Star lost hold of its 21-point lead, 51-30, as NLEX went on a 40-point blitz in the third period.
“There were reminders at halftime to stay focused and don’t look at the score, but NLEX outhustled and outplayed us in the third and that’s the reason why they were able to recover,” said Victolero. “We just told them that starting in the fourth, we have to forget about that and play Star basketball and I’m very happy that we stepped up on defense.”
Wayne Chism had 21 of his game-high 33 points in the second half for NLEX, which suffered its fourth straight defeat.
Carlo Lastimosa also had 13 markers and four assists in the defeat.
STAR 105 – Maliksi 24, Mitchell 23, Jalalon 16, Simon 13, Sangalang 9, Ramos 5, Lee 5, Reavis 4, Barroca 4, Javier 2, Melton 0, Mendoza 0, Dela Rosa 0.
NLEX 103 – Chism 33, Lastimosa 13, Alas 9, Lanete 9, Tiongson 7, Rios 6, Taulava 6, Al-Hussaini 6, Guinto 5, Monfort 4, J. Villanueva 3, Baracael 2, Camson 0, Soyud 0, Khobuntin 0.
Quarters: 23-15, 51-34, 75-74, 105-103.