JAYSON Castro is expected to pick up from where he left off as he makes his return to the Gilas Pilipinas lineup that will host Japan in their Fiba World Cup qualifying match on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Sitting out in their 84-68 loss to Australia last Thursday to rest an injured ankle, the national team star suits up along with Jio Jalalon and Troy Rosario to give the squad more speed and quickness that can match up against the equally fleet-footed Japanese.
“Medyo okay na (ankle ko),” Castro said after practice on the eve of their matchup that tips off at 7 p.m. “Actually this is my first time na makapag-scrimmage, so okay naman. May pain pero kaya naman.”
The TNT franchise player sustained the injury in the game against Phoenix last February 7, but hasn’t missed action after that, even averaging 20.5 points in 37.5 minutes in their next two games, both ending up in losses to Ginebra and GlobalPort.
Still, the 31-year-old sat out in the Australia game.
“During that trip, puro rehab lang ako tsaka may mga light workout para yung stamina ko, nandun pa rin,” Castro said. “Tsaka yung PT namin magaling, inaalagaan niya ako, para maging 100 percent dito sa Japan game.”
Back in tip-top shape, Castro is expected to bring his A-game to help Gilas get back on track and grab its third win in four games in Group B play against a winless Japan side.
“Sa side naman natin, for us to maka-move on sa second round, kailangan natin ipanalo ‘to, so yun yung mentality na sinasabi sa amin ni coach,” Castro said. “Kung sa kanila, do or die ‘to, parang ganun din sa atin.”