The two Kapampangan ballers faced off against each other for the first time on October 30 when Phoenix went up against TNT. This was the first since Serrano was nursing an injury during the Philippine Cup when the two ballclubs went up against each other.
Serrano revealed that Castro even gave him a pair of shoes prior to the game.
Encho Serrano on Jayson Castro
“Super thankful kasi nung bata ako, napapanood ko na si Kuya Jayson. Actually, before the game, pumunta pa siya sa dugout namin, binigyan niya (ako) ng sapatos,” said Serrano.
The Phoenix rookie said Castro has been constantly messaging him, serving as a mentor to his fellow Pampanga native.
“Thankful ako kasi may kuya ako na sobrang bait na nandiyan para i-guide ako kahit magkalaban kami,” said Serrano.
To no one’s surprise, the 23-year-old Serrano and Castro guarded against each other including the final moments of the game. The 36-year-old Castro though also showed why he is a veteran, stealing the ball away from Serrano during one point of the game. In one play during the latter moments, the TNT veteran also forced Serrano to pass off instead of taking a shot.
Serrano’s team though eventually won. He and fellow rookie Tyler Tio sank three free throws on their way to a 91-88 victory.
The Apalit native said he tried his best to stay focused and not be intimidated by Castro, who twice won a Mythical Five in the Fiba Asia Championship.
“Nandoon na ako sa situation na ‘yun, kailangan ko labanan ‘yung situation. Nag-focus lang ako kung ano ang kailangang gawin sa loob,” said Serrano.
Phoenix’s win over TNT was its fifth straight but the Fuel Masters will not relax following another win over a traditional contender.
“Thankful pero hindi pa rin kami masa-satisfy kasi wala pa kaming napapatunayan. Kailangan naming gamitin ito para maging motivation kasi alam naman namin na kaya naming manalo. Tuloy tuloy lang kung ano ginagawa namin. Basta magtatrabaho lang kami,” said Serrano.