MANILA, Philippines – Jayson Castro begging off from playing in the FIBA World Cup seemed to have marked the end of his illustrious international career that saw him get hailed twice as the best point guard in Asia.
He intended to focus on his family first after tying the knot with his wife Lyle in June and said it was probably time for the younger players to take over his role. (READ: Is Jayson Castro retiring from Gilas? 'Maybe')
Surprisingly, though, Castro is back in the fold for Gilas Pilipinas, this time with the task of helping the national team capture the top prize in the Southeast Asian Games under new head coach Tim Cone.
It took just a call to make him come back.
"Our big boss called and told me coach Tim needed a veteran point guard. That's it," Castro told reporters in Filipino on Monday, September 30, as he joined the team in its first practice.
With the country hosting the biennial meet later this year, Gilas Pilipinas has left no stone unturned in its plans of dominating on its home turf and winning a record-extending 18th gold medal.
That included tapping the services of Castro, whom Cone said is one of the cornerstones of the national team alongside June Mar Fajardo. (READ: Cone honored to coach Castro 11 years after nearly drafting him in PBA)
Castro, for his part, said it is his chance to soak up knowledge from Cone, the winningest tactician in the PBA with 21 championships.
"He's very detailed and he explains every movement, which is very helpful to us players. You don't always get to be coached by someone like him so you absorb everything you can learn from him," Castro said of Cone.
"This is my first time to play for coach Tim. Even in the All-Star Game, we're still opponents. I'm happy to work under him."
Castro also relished his reunion with former Gilas Pilipinas teammates LA Tenorio (as teammate) and Jimmy Alapag (as coach).
The 3 formed a scary backcourt for the national team, seeing action together for the Philippines in its silver-medal finish in the FIBA Asia Championship in 2013 and in its historic return to the FIBA World Cup in 2014.
"I'm extremely happy because I didn't imagine this is where we'll see each other again. It's only outside basketball when we see each other. When we arrived, it's like we remembered everything from the past," Castro said.
The lingering question for Castro, though, is will the SEA Games be his swan song? He decided to leave that part unanswered. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.