MANILA, Philippines – Jayson Castro suffered a double whammy as Gilas Pilipinas absorbed a heart-wrenching 70-78 home loss to Iran on Monday, December 3, in the World Cup qualifiers despite him playing through an injury.
Returning from a 3-game FIBA suspension, Castro bucked off a right ankle sprain he sustained in the 2nd quarter to put up a team-high 19 points on top of 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal.
But things didn’t go the national team veteran’s way after he aggravated the injury in the 4th quarter and the Filipinos, which led by as much as 8 points in the final frame, crumbled in the endgame against the Iranians.
Castro left the locker room limping while being assisted by team trainer Dexter Aseron.
“Siyempre, ‘di naman excuse ‘yung na-injure ka and then ‘di ka na lalaro. So talagang pinilit ko para makatulong sa team. And then ‘yun talo pa rin (It’s not an excuse not to play even if you get injured. I tried to play so I can help the team. But then we still lost),” Castro told Filipino reporters.
“Wala ganoon talaga. Lahat naman ginawa namin. Binigay namin ‘yung best namin. Unfortunately, natalo (That’s just how it is. We did everything we could. We gave it our best. Unfortunately, we lost),” he added.
The 32-year-old was the man of the night for Gilas as he led the Nationals’ second-half surge with 15 points in the final two quarters.
If it were up to Castro, though, he would rather have a mediocre night if it would mean a triumph for the Philippines.
“Sana maging okay na lang and then nanalo ‘di ba. Mas gusto ko pa ‘yun. Hopefully, next window mas maging maganda pa saka manalo na (I wich I just had an okay night and then we won. I would rather have that. Hopefully in the next window, I can have a better game and then win finally, to boot.)
No thanks to a winless campaign in the fifth window of the World Cup qualifiers, the Philippines now couldn’t afford another loss in the sixth and final window as it dropped to 5-5 and 4th place in Group F.
A win could have pushed the Filipinos at joint 2nd place with Iran and Japan, but the Iranians solidified their hold of solo 2nd with a 7-3 record while the Japanese climbed to 3rd with a 6-4 slate.
Only the top 3 teams from the group are guaranteed spots in the World Cup.
Castro remained unfazed.
“Confident naman ako na sa last window, alam kong kaya natin manalo (I’m confident that we can win in the last window),” he said.
“Kailangan lang natin ‘yung mga mistakes natin ma-correct natin and kailangan natin ng magandang preparation – mas mahaba. Kasi new system, kailangan mahabang preparation para ma-organize,” Castro added.
(We just need to correct our mistakes and have a longer preparation. It’s a new system so we need a longer period of time to organize the team.) – Rappler.com