Just by looking at Jayson Castro’s production on the offensive end, TNT looked like it was doomed to fall apart in the semifinals series opener against the top-seed Ginebra.
Only it was a deception as the cat-quick guard worked in the background all-game long then just showed up when he was needed the most to tow Katropa in a wire-to-wire 100-94 victory in Game 1.
Castro played his worst-game –scoring-wise– in the playoffs since their Game 7 loss to Petron (now San Miguel) in the 2011 Governors’ Cup after finishing with just 4 points on 1-of-10 shooting, but his only made field goal proved to be as precious for TNT.
With Ginebra looking to steal the game, the two-time Best Point Guard in Asia drilled a cold-blooded dagger triple over the outstretched arms of Sol Mercado with 12.2 seconds left –a play which was ironically not green lighted by TNT head coach Nash Racela.
“Actually ayaw ko na nga na itira niya yung huli kasi nagmi-mintis eh,” said Racela in his post-game presser at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But Racela knows Castro has more tricks up in his sleeves to help the team other than scoring in bunches.
“But again, Jayson will be Jayson, he was really born for those moments,” continued Racela. “I don’t know, during the halftime, he only took two attempts yata eh. Maybe that’s also the reason why he struggled. But yeah, he hit the biggest shot of the game.”
The Angeles, Pampanga native, on his part, is more than happy with the result despite him shifting his focus in playmaking as Ginebra’s defense converged on him.
“Kasi naka-focus yung defense nila sakin,” explained Castro, who managed to dish out 6 assists. “This conference naman di ba, sinasabi ko na sa inyo na kailangan ko maging facilitator at the same time i-involve lahat ng teammates ko para di lang naka-focus sa akin.”
And one of the beneficiaries of Castro’s sharp playmaking was rookie Roger Pogoy, who did not let his senior down as he finished with 17 points, 10 in the opening frame where TNT set the tone.
“Laking pasalamat ko kay kuya Jayson, kundi dahil sa mga pasa niya, hindi din naman ako makaka-shoot,” said Pogoy in a separate interview.
Racela, however, expects a “Blur” explosion when the Katropa guns for an 2-0 lead in their best-of-five affair on Tuesday.
“Actually that’s good today, because next game, he will explode,” he warned.
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