Talk ’N Text, Rain or Shine both left in awe of Jayson Castro
MANILA, Philippines - Jayson Castro put on a performance to remember in game two of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals. The Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters superstar scored a career-high 44 points and had a PBA Finals record for a local with 9 3-pointers. His shots were hitting nothing but the bottom of the net, and his explosive drives to the rim resulted to easy layups and visits to the foul line.
Castro came up just 4 points shy of Allan Caidic and Ricardo Brown, whose 48-point single-game performances in the PBA Finals remain the most scored by a local in league history. But the most painful caveat to his otherwise momentous night was that his Tropang Texters squandered a 17-point lead and fell to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 116-108, who tied the best-of-seven series at 1-1. Game three is on Sunday, April 19.
Castro exited the Talk ’N Text locker room more than an hour after the game with the letters “KYRIE” plastered on the middle of his black Kyrie Irving-inspired Nike shirt. A lot of possessions in game two, Castro looked just like the Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star: unguardable. But Castro wasn’t in an upbeat mood. After all, Talk ’N Text’s franchise mantra for years has remained the same: a victory for the team is above all.
“Sana konti nalang yung na-score ko basta manalo kami,” a dejected Castro said after the game. For most guys who just had their career performance - not to mention an outing that will live in the PBA history books - some hint of positivism would be present. But Talk ’N Text’s superstar wasn’t displaying any.
(I don’t mind scoring little as long as we won.)
“In terms of scoring, wala naman saakin yun. Alam niyo naman ako, basta ma score ko lang 4 points, basta panalo kami, basta panalo, wala saakin, masaya ako. Eh ganito, kahit high-scorer ka, kung talo, mas masakit diba?”
(Scoring isn’t that important to me. You know me, even if I score four points, as long as we win, I’m happy. Being the high-scorer but watching your team lose, it hurts, doesn’t it?)
Castro and his teammates will relive the forgettable second game by watching tape as they aim to prevent the same mistakes in game three. But even their opponents will have to find a way to stop Castro, whose 27 points in the first half of game two nearly put the Elasto Painters in a deadly 2-0 hole.
“Jayson is almost unguardable,” says Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao. “You just work hard against him and then couple it with a lot of prayers.”
The praise for Castro didn’t stop with Guiao, who has been around the PBA since 1990 and has coached and coached against some of the greatest players the league has seen.
Even Rain or Shine import Wayne Chism couldn’t find the words to describe his adversary’s incredible showing.
“Man, you tell that kid he can’t shoot and he’d get mad. That kid got a flame right now. We probably gotta get a fire hydrant to put him out. But right now, he got so much confidence it’s going to be hard to get him off.”
“Not in the first half like that,” Chism responded when queried if he’d ever seen a performance such as Castro’s in the first half, where he hit 7 3-pointers. “He had so much confidence that if you tell him not to shoot, he’d get mad at you. He kept shooting and he had all the confidence so he played well tonight.”
“We had to weather the storm against his shots tonight and we did a good job of doing that. He played his tail off tonight, that’s all I can say.”
Castro’s performance was mind-blowing to some fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, who were aware they were witnessing something special; witnessing history in the making, every time Castro got the ball in his hands.
Some weren’t as surprised. After all, Castro had performed just as spectacularly against the Purefoods Star Hotshots in the semifinals. Someone who plays for the Elasto Painters, and who’s been teammates with Castro in the national team, wasn’t shocked by what he saw in game two.
“Alam natin si Jayson; lalo na nung semis pinakita niya back to back na 30 point [games],” says Jeff Chan, whose 17 points were crucial in his team’s win. “Kanina, puro fastbreak yun, pure open siya, so talagang mainit yung bata so kailangan namin i-defend next game.”
(We know what Jayson is capable of; especially when he had back to back 30-point games in the semis. In game two, he was scoring mostly on fastbreaks where he was open. He’s on fire so we really need to defend him next game.)
“Magaling si Jayson eh,” says Willie Miller, a former PBA MVP and Castro’s current teammate. Was the young star’s performance reminiscent of the aging veteran’s in his prime? “9 yung na shoot niya na 3-points. Hindi pa ako nakakashoot nang 3-points na ganon ka dami eh,” he said.
(Jayson’s good. He shot 9 3-pointers. I haven’t been able to shoot that much.)
“Nakaka-drive, nakakadepensa, nakaka 3-points. And willing passer din eh. Ngayon, super lupit talaga ni Jayson ngayon.”
(He can drive, he can defend, he can shoot threes. And he’s a willing passer. He’s really good right now.)
Is he the best the PBA has to offer right now?
“Yeah,” Miller responded instantly. “If not, he’s one of the kung baga top na local players. Tsaka malupit na gwardya.”
(If he’s not the best, he’s one of the best locals. He’s a great guard.)
Castro might just be regarded as the best the league has to offer. Some will argue for June Mar Fajardo. Some will sing praises for Paul Lee. In a few years, Terrence Romeo could very well join the debate.
But as far as individual accomplishments are involved - including the glorification that comes with it - Castro’s mindset and objective remains the same: to help lead his team to victories, even if it means sacrificing his own numbers for the betterment of the Tropang Texters.
“Ginagawa ko lang yung trabaho ko. Pag open, tinitira ko lang with confidence. Siguro next game mas i-involve ko yung teammates ko. Kasi pag ako lang, mas nakafocus sila saakin, so kailangan ko i-involve talaga yung mga teammates ko parang nung last game, nung game one.”
(I’m just doing my job. If I’m open, I shoot it with confidence. Next game, I’ll involve my teammates more. Because if it’s all on me, the focus of the defense is more focused on me, so I need to involve my teammates like in game one.)
“Maganda yung natalo kami para ma-realize na top team rin sila in this league,” Castro says.
(It’s good that we lost so we realize they’re a top team in the league.)
“Natalo lang kami ngayon, so na sayang yung performance niya,” Miller said after game two. “Siguro nag kulang lang kami sa depensa. We have to step our defense sa next game.”
(We just lost today, and it affected Jayson’s performance. We didn’t play good defense.)
Talk ’N Text will come with full force. The series is now a best-of-five. Every minute counts. Every second is crucial.
“Jayson can beat you probably by himself and if he wanted to, and he almost did,” says Chism. “So we cannot come out relax anytime against this team at all.”