CHRIS Ross may be the PBA’s top defensive player today and Jayson Castro the two-time best point guard in Asia.
And while their paths will cross again in the Commissioner’s Cup finals that gets underway on Wednesday, the two were quick to refute their match-up serves as the highlight of the best-of-seven series.
The title showdown will be and always be San Miguel against TnT Katropa.
“It’s more than just me versus Jayson or Jayson versus me. When you’re playing a great player, it’s all about team defense. Its’ not always one-on-one, it’s about four guys behind you, and having the trust of the guys behind you that they’re gonna be on the right spot at the right time,” said Ross, the PBA Press Corps Defensive Player of the Year last season, on the eve of Game 1.
“I’m not going to this series thinking it’s just me and Jayson when basketball is a team game. It’s all about game plan, taking the challenge as a team.”
Castro shares the same outlook against the player expected to try and contain him for the entire series.
“Hindi Castro versus Ross ito. Basketball is a team (game),” said the TnT star, certainly one of the most explosive players in the PBA today.
“Siguro both teams kung papaano mag-adjust sa isat’-isa (ang tungkol) sa series.”
The two players showed exactly their values to their respective teams during the semifinals against Star and no. 1 seed Barangay Ginebra.
Castro, 30, was simply spectacular in the series clincher against the Kings, pouring in 38 big points – including 21 in the second half – in a 122-109 Game Four win. The native of Bacolor, Pampanga was 5-of-8 from three-point range and added 11 assists and seven rebounds.
In four games against Ginebra, he averaged 15.25 points, 7.0 assists, and 4.25 rebounds.
Ross was just as impressive.
The 32-year-old Fil-Am guard had 24 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, and five steals in the Beermen’s 109-102 close-out victory against the Hotshots.
In four games against Star, Ross averaged 17.0 points, 6.25 rebounds, 9.25 assists, and 4.25 steals. He had a game-high 15 assists in San Miguel’s 109-105 loss to Star in the series opener.
Those numbers were more than enough to have the two crowd each other in the heated race for the Best Player of the Week honor, which Castro eventually won.
Ross, said hands-down, Castro is one of the best players in the league today.
“Playing against Jayson has always been tough. Over the years he has done so much better running this team (TnT) and getting everybody involved,” he stressed. “It’s always tough going up against TnT with Jayson leading them.”
But as he pointed out before, this is not personally between him and Castro.
“It’s just not me, but coaches going down all the way to the last players on the bench (to stop Jayson),” said Ross.