Keen on reaching PBA semis, Jayson Castro takes charge for TNT
ANTIPOLO, Philippines – After 3 straight conferences of missing out on the semifinals, Jayson Castro has had enough.
The 30-year-old playmaker accessed his extra gear Saturday, September 24, exploding for 42 points to lead TNT KaTropa's march into the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup semifinals for the first time in 4 conferences.
"Gusto ko lang maging aggressive para makita ng teammates ko kasi opportunity na sa amin to para makabalik kami ng semis," Castro said after another commanding quarterfinals victory for TNT over the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 136-124, at the Ynares Center here.
"Yun yung nafi-feel ko, na kailangan ko magpakita sa teammates ko especially sa offense kasi yung defense nung Phoenix uma-under sila (sa screen), so mga wide open naman mga shots ko."
(I just wanted to be aggressive so my teammates would see that this is an opportunity for us to get back to the semis. I felt I needed to perform for my teammates, especially on offense since they were going under the screen, so my shots were wide open.)
Castro, Asia's best point guard, swished in 5 of his 11 3-pointers and went 14-of-26 or 54% from the field to go with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and two steals. He also was 9-of-12 from the stripe and was plus-22 in his very efficient 27 minutes on the floor.
The retired national team star had a 29-point first half, where TNT led 70-67. The free-flowing offense hummed on to the last two quarters, as the KaTropa breached the century mark late in the third and went on to notch this season's second highest scoring output by a team at 136.
"Siguro nashu-shoot lang (The shots just kept falling)," Castro downplayed his feat.
Castro was two points shy of his career-high 44 points by the end of the night.
"Maganda lang talaga yung (chemistry) ng team namin this conference (Our chemistry is just really good this conference)," the mild-mannered Castro deflected the credit to his team, saying they treat every game seriously. "Sana magtuloy-tuloy hanggang Finals (I hope it continues to the Finals)."
TNT, which last won a title in the 2015 Commissioner's Cup, will begin its best-of-5 semifinals series against sister team Meralco on Tuesday, September 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It will be the first time Castro will have his mentor Jimmy Alapag as his opponent in the playoffs.
Alapag, one of TNT's most celebrated players, previously retired early in 2015 before making a comeback mid-year to sister team Meralco, offering veteran leadership.
Castro and Alapag were teammates for 8 seasons at TNT and then at Gilas Pilipinas since 2013. The pair has been to many battles here and abroad and had made history for Philippine basketball in Asia and on the world stage.
Now, they will go up against in each other, wearing different jerseys.
"Sobrang excited ako, isa siya sa mga (nag-push) sa akin bakit ganito yung nilalaro ko," Castro said of the impending matchup.
"Saka yung mga advice niya sa akin, hanggang ngayon, close naman kami ni Jimmy. Happy ako na makalaban sina Jimmy, at least isa sa amin makapuntang Finals."
(I'm very excited, he's one of those who pushed me that's why I'm playing like this now. His advice to me, I still heed them now. Jimmy and I are close. I'm happy to face Jimmy, at least one of us will make the Finals.) – Rappler.com