SAN Miguel is not about to lower its guard, but should Jayson Castro be unavailable for TnT Katropa in the all-important Game Seven of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals, then the reigning two-time defending champion has one less problem to worry about.
Leo Austria, the San Miguel coach, admitted the damage Castro always inflict on the Beermen – and on any other opponent for that matter – and his probable absence in Monday night’s sudden-death at the Mall of Asia Arena is indeed, a development the team will certainly elcome.
“Kung mawawala si Jayson, I think mababawasan ng konti yung problema namin,” he said. “Talagang nangyayari yun.”
By that, the San Miguel coach meant the hamstring strain the 30-year-old guard from Bacolor, Pampanga suffered late in Game Six of the best-of-seven series.
Castro asked to be taken out of the match at the seven-minute mark of the fourth quarter, never to return again as the Beermen went on to post a 104-88 win and force a winner-take-all match for a berth in the finals.
The player heralded as the two-time best point guard in Asia will need at least three weeks of rest to fully recover from the injury, although coach Nash Racela insists Castro remains a game-time decision for the Texters.
Austria said ace center June Mar Fajardo will benefit from Castro’s supposed absence.
“That’s one good situation para sa amin dahil nahihirapan si June Mar dahil kay Jayson, because he’s trying to help whenever Jayson is free off a pick-and-roll. Nai-involve kasi si June Mar,” he pointed out.
But if Castro’s absence is good news, there’s also bad news for the champions.
Sophomore big man Troy Rosario is expected to return in the Texters’ lineup after missing the game last Saturday, which coincided with his wedding to long-time partner Mich Aguas.
Austria noted how TnT missed the presence of the 6-foot-7 Rosario the last time.
“That’s one thing na nahirapan sila sa rotation. It’s very evident na hindi nila alam kung paano nila gagamitin yung kanilang stretch four,” he said.
“There’s only one stretch four (sa kanila) si Ranidel (De Ocampo). Nag-try sila kay (Danny) Seigle but it didn’t materialize. Kaya kailangan nila si Rosario.”
Although it sure is impossible, Austria could only wish Rosario will also not be available for TnT in Game Seven.
“Sana sa Monday mayroon siya uling wedding,” joked Austria, eliciting laughter from members of the press.
“Biro lang yun,” he was quick to add. “Congratulations, I hope maganda ang samahan ninyo at tumagal kayo habang buhay.”
Expect no well wishes from Austria when game time finally comes.