PBA: Jio Jalalon rises to coach’s challenge in Magnolia's Game 3 victory over NLEX

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Magnolia Hotshots guard Jio Jalalon came up big for his team in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals tiff against the NLEX Road Warriors.

The former Arellano star finished with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals in the 106-99 victory.

Jalalon’s performance is a huge uptick from his showing in the first two games of the series, with a scoreless Game 1 and a nine-point outing in Game 2.

In Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero’s mind, there is no question that Jalalon is a talented player with the potential to contribute in a big way for his team.

In fact, Victolero says he challenged the 25-year old guard to elevate his game.

“Kagabi ka text ko yan si Jio, and I told him in order for him to establish his name in the PBA, he needs this series,” Victolero said. “Para kahit papano makuha yung momentum niya at tsaka yung kanyang confidence.”

“Thankful and happy kasi nag respond si Jio sa challenge ko,” Victolero added.

Jalalon acknowledged Victolero’s challenge, and says that he hopes that his latest outburst is just the start of many.

“Pasalamat ako kay coach Chito na binigyan niya ako ng tiwala,” Jalalon said after Game 3. “Sana magtuloytuloy pa to, kasi hindi pa namin nakukuha yung defense namin, buti na lang na sustain namin yung energy nila (NLEX).”

Jalalon and the rest of the Hotshots aim to build on their victory when they meet the Road Warriors anew in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.