JAYSON Castro’s days with Gilas Pilipinas are over and not even a resurgence in his game can convince him to reconsider.
The 36-year-old playmaker who once reigned as the ‘Best Point Guard in Asia,’ reiterated his time with Gilas is a thing of the past and it's only proper to give rising players their own opportunity to serve flag and country.
“Mas marami ng deserving sa akin na mas bata, mas malalakas, and at the same time, time na talaga nila,” he said on Friday during the PBA Philippine Cup finals presser between TNT and San Miguel.
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As Gilas Pilipinas again turned to the PBA for manpower in its campaign for the fourth window of the World Cup qualifiers, calls for Castro to return to the national team are mounting given his immense contribution to the team in the past.
Besides, the proud native of Bacolor, Pampanga has enjoyed a career rebirth this season.
In the semifinals alone against Magnolia Hotshots, Castro averaged a second-best 16.3 points for the Tropang Giga, and fifth-best among players who suited up in the Final Four.
He’s shooting 62 percent from the field, including 44 percent from beyond the arc in the semis, while adding 4.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
No wonder, Castro’s name is being mentioned about possible players for consideration in the qualifiers all the way to the World Cup next year.
But sorry to disappoint, Castro’s decision is already cast in stone.
“For FIBA World this coming 2023, mas mahaba yung preparation nila, so for me ibigay na natin sa mga bata na mas mag-iimprove pa talaga,” he stressed.
“Kasi sila (young players) yung opportunities din, di ba? Tsaka ma-maximize nila yung talent nila para pagdating ng FIBA 2023, ready na ready na sila.”
Castro first played for the Philippine team in 2004 as part of the Youth team, and then suited up for the men’s squad that won the 2007 gold in the Southeast Asian Games with a unit backed by Harbour Centre of Rep. Mikee Romero.
Four four straight years beginning in 2013, Castro was part of the Gilas Pilipinas team that finished runner-up to Iran during the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship here and earned a berth in the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Seville, Spain.
Castro’s final stint with Gilas came during the 2016 FIBA Olympic qualifiers at the Mall of Asia Arena, announcing his retirement following the loss to New Zealand. He considered playing in the 2019 SEA Games but was ruled out due to an injury.