By JONAS TERRADO
TNT coach Chot Reyes praised Jayson Castro for his willingness to sacrifice after recovering from two unproductive games with a key performance in the win over defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Castro finished with 14 points, four rebounds and five assists in almost 19 minutes off the bench as the Tropang Giga won 88-67 to firm their grip on top spot in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations with an 8-1 record.
Those stats were a huge difference from the previous two games against the San Miguel Beermen and NLEX Road Warriors.
The Tropang Giga suffered their first defeat with an 83-67 decision to the Beermen last Sept. 8 with Castro being held to just one point and one assist in 16 minutes before Reyes opted to go with his reserves.
Against the Road Warriors, Castro didn’t score in 16 minutes but was able to grab six rebounds as the Tropang Giga got back on track by posting a 100-85 win two days later.
While many saw it as disappointing numbers from TNT’s undisputed leader, Reyes begged to differ.
“People are saying last game masama ang laro ni Jayson because he didn’t score,” said Reyes. “But if you look at the other statistics and also his plus/minus when he was in, he was hugely positive. “
“I think that speaks a lot about his willingness to sacrifice. Kaya that’s a great example sa ibang players sa team,” added Reyes.
Castro was hugely involved in TNT’s win over Ginebra, with his 10-point second quarter being one of the keys in turning the contest pitting the protagonists in last year’s championship series into a lopsided affair.
His steal off Kent Salado that led to an easy layup also proved big for the Tropang Giga at the end of the third after the Gin Kings pulled within eight, 60-52, despite struggling all afternoon.
But Castro said almost everyone on the TNT backcourt has shown the capability of stepping up, particularly rookie Mikey Williams who posted big numbers in the last two games and backup Kib Montalbo with his heady plays on both ends.
“Every game naman ready ako kasi kung makikita yung lineup namin especially sa guard position, lahat naman pwede mag-start, lahat pwede mag-off the bench,” Castro said.
“Yun yung kagandahan sa team namin ngayon, na willing mag-sacrifice lahat para sa ikagaganda ng game. Basta manalo kami lahat naman kami masaya e. Yun yung No. 1 na maganda sa team namin.”