Jayson Castro reconnects with Slingers coach who tried to bring him to Australia league
Jayson Castro almost played for the Slingers in Australia's NBL, but the Singapore pulled out of the league citing enormous travel costs. Jerome Ascano

COACH Franco Arsego was just too happy to reconnect with Jayson Castro after a missed chance to handle him with the Singapore Slingers a few years ago.

The Australian mentor of the Singapore team in the Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championshipwas humbled to see the star player of Gilas Pilipinas approach and greet him, considering his status as a two-time best point guard in Asia.

“He came up to me and greeted me with, ‘Hi coach,'” Arsego said of the encounter on Thursday shortly after the Singaporeans ended their campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifier with a 73-60 win over Vietnam at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“I just love it. I just love that he could still remember me as a potential coach.”

[See Peerless Gilas drubs Indonesia to complete Seaba sweep, seal place in World Cup qualifiers]

The 30-year-old native of Bacolor, Pampanga was supposed to become the first Filipino to play in the National Basketball League (NBL), Australia’s top level professional basketball competition, when he signed with the Slingers in 2008.

Unfortunately, just a month before the season got underway, the Slingers, who are Singapore-based, withdrew from the league, citing excessive transport cost going to Australia.

“The year that I arrived, we were about to recruit Jayson to come over and play in Australia in the NBL, but then in 2008-09, they pulled out of the league and that’s when Jayson came back to the Philippines,” recalled Arsego.

“But we really came after him to play for the Slingers.”

Castro has since made a name for himself as one of the top playmakers in the PBA, winning six championships with TnT Katropa, and was named twice as Finals MVP and four times as Best Player of the Conference.

Arsego admitted failing to follow how Castro’s career has flourished in Asia’s first ever play for pay league, but is aware the former Philippine Christian University standout is a big name, big-time player in the PBA.

“It’s been some time. I don’t want to say age has caught up with him, but I do know he’s a very popular player in the Philippines, and he’s a very wonderful person,” said Arsego, who’s in the coaching business for 38 years now.

“I’m sure he was lightning-quick and I’m sure he has made great contributions to the PBA in his time,” added the Singaporean coach, whose team finished with a 2-4 record. “It was great to find him tonight. I just love it.”


Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos