PBA Philippine Cup

TNT load management pays off as healthy Castro delivers in clutch

JR Isaga
TNT load management pays off as healthy Castro delivers in clutch
Aside from being deployed off the bench all conference, Jayson Castro’s minutes have also been well-monitored throughout TNT’s stellar run

When in doubt, go to Jayson Castro.

Throughout the years, both the TNT Tropang Giga and Gilas Pilipinas have known for a fact that when the going gets tough, “The Blur” always delivers.

The same script was followed on Wednesday, November 18, as a well-rested Castro helped TNT draw first blood with a 95-92 Game 1 squeaker in its best-of-five PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series against the ever-resilient Phoenix Super LPG.

The 34-year-old, do-it-all veteran was responsible for 9 of his team’s final 12 points, and tallied timely offensive boards and steals in the clutch for good measure.

Head coach Bong Ravena couldn’t have asked anything more from his prized floor general, and was grateful that all the rest they gave him has paid off when it mattered most.

“It’s a big thing, like our previous games, we were able to rest Jayson and especially going to the semis, we know that the games won’t be easy,” he said in the post-game presser.

“As much as possible, we had to keep him well-rested so he is ready every game, and in long minutes he will last, especially in the clutch.”

Aside from being deployed off the bench all conference, Castro’s minutes have also been well-monitored throughout the Tropang Giga’s stellar All-Filipino run.

In 13 games so far, the national team star failed to breach the 30-minute mark 9 times, including a conference-low 9-minute run against NorthPort, and has been completely benched twice.

Ever the professional, Castro understood why his playing time was being restricted, and was thankful that his team has helped him survive the grueling grind of the PBA bubble.

Ine-encourage nila ako lagi na kung ano yung kaya kong gawin, gawin ko lang,” he said. “’Yun nga nung start ng bubble hindi ako masyadong healthy, puro rehab at saka activation lang ako. So malaking bagay ‘yung support nila talaga, yung mga teammates ko.”

(They’re encouraging me always to just do only what I can do. At the start of the bubble, I wasn’t fully healthy, and I’ve been doing rehab and activation ever since. So it’s really a big thing that my teammates are all supporting me.)

Given how Phoenix was able to keep it close even without the injured Matthew Wright, and the foul-plagued Calvin Abueva, Ravena is looking for more of the same from his rested star moving forward in the highly-physical series.

“We’re glad Jayson really stepped up tonight. His leadership, that’s what we need. Execution, making good decisions,” he said. “We’re just fortunate that he made his clutch baskets for us.” – Rappler.com