Hot-handed Jayson Castro sends Talk ’N Text to the finals
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Incredible.
That the best way to describe the performance of superstar Jayson Castro, who scored 13 points in the fourth quarter, 33 total in the game (a career-high), and hit 7 3-pointers to lead the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters past the Purefoods Star Hotshots, 79-66, in game 4 of their semis on Saturday, April 11, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters advance to the PBA finals for the 16th time in franchise history and will take on the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in game 1 on Wednesday, April 15, at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“He just makes things easier,” Talk ’N Text head coach Jong Uichico said about Castro, who followed up his masterful game 3 performance with another classic - especially in the clutch - that likely sealed him as the Best Player of the Conference awardee.
“I said that last game Jayson was Jayson. He’s evolved from a great go-to-guy and passer,” Uichico said.
The Hotshots were on top by 10 at the half, but a 12-0 run - spearheaded by 10 points from Castro - to open the third quarter by Talk ’N Text erased the deficit.
Both teams exchanged baskets for the remainder of the second half until Castro took over late.
“Talagang sunod-sunod yung puntos niya sa fourth quarter,” Uichico said about his star point guard, who looked like Jimmy Alapag all throughout the semifinals with his 55% shooting average from downtown.
(His points came on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter.)
A 3-ball from The Blur extended the Tropang Texters’ lead to six, 67-61, with 4:03 to go. After Marc Pingris and Jay Washington exchanged baskets, Castro was left open after a pick and splashed another 3-pointer to put Talk ’N Text up nine, 72-63, with 2:36 to go.
Following a Purefoods time-out, Castro picked Mark Barroca’s pocket at center court and streamed down the other end for an easy layup to provide the final nail in the coffin.
Castro also finished with 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Though he struggled by making just 5 of 21 shots and putting up only 15 points, import Ivan Johnson pulled down 15 rebounds. Washington pitched in 12 markers in the win.
Purefoods was led by Denzel Bowles, who recorded 14 points on 3-of-14 shooting. The Hotshots’ total output was their lowest for the Commissioner’s Cup. Barroca and Pingris put up 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“It’s always a good feeling to be back in the finals,” Uichico said.
“Hopefully we can do well in the championship series. It’s a tough series for us.”
Talk ’N Text won despite shooting just 39% from the floor and scoring only 28 points in the first two quarters - their lowest in a half in 10 years. The Hotshots weren’t any better, going 37% from the floor and hitting just 4-of-12 from downtown. The Tropang Texters, on the other hand, converted 12 triples.
Talk ’N Text 79: Castro 33, Johnson 15, Washington 12, De Ocampo 12, Fonacier 4, Rosser 2, Alas 1, Williams 0, Aban 0
Purefoods 66: Bowles 14, Barroca 12, Devance 10, Pingris 8, Simon 6, Melton 5, Mallari 5, Reacis 2, Yap 2, Maliksi 2, Pennisi 0
Quarter Scores: 18-16, 28-38, 45-48, 79-66