NOT even an off night from Jayson Castro could affect the trust of coach Nash Racela in him as the TNT coach still put the ball in the hands of his prized ward in the most crucial moment of Game One of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup against Ginebra on Sunday.
Castro, who had missed his first nine shots, repaid his coach’s faith by knocking down the dagger tripl from the top of the key that led to the Texters’ 100-94 win for the early upper hand in their best-of-five series.
“Actually ayaw ko na nga na itira niya yung huli kasi nagmi-mintis eh,” Racela said in jest in the post-game conference before turning serious.
“But again, Jayson will be Jayson, he was really born for those moments,” he added. “He was struggling the whole game. I don't know, during halftime, he only took two attempts yata eh. Maybe that's also the reason why he struggled. But yeah, he hit the biggest shot of the game.”
It was The Blur’s lowest output in the playoffs in six years or since Game Seven of the 2011 Governors’ Cup Finals against Petron when he missed all his seven shots and scored his two points from foul line, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
Racela was hardly worried of Castro’s poor offensive performance as the law of average dictates he’s bound for a bounce-back game.
“Actually that's good today, because next game, he will explode,” Racela said with a chuckle.
Castro admitted the Gin Kings’ defense locked in on him, prompting him to set up his teammates instead as he dished out six assists and was still a +13 in +/- in 29 minutes as a starter.
“Kasi naka-focus yung defense nila sakin,” the Gilas star said. “This conference naman, ‘di ba, sinasabi ko na sa inyo na kailangan ko maging facilitator at the same time i-involve lahat ng teammates ko para ‘di lang naka-focus sa’kin.”
“And then good thing is we have a big man like Josh na kaya niyang i-dominate yung paint or 'pag dino-double siya, nakikita niya mga wide open,” he added of TNT import Joshua Smith who poured in 35 points and 13 boards in just 28 minutes off the bench.
Now, the important thing for the Texters is sustaining their gains in Game Two on Tuesday night.
“Alam naman natin na sa series, yung Game One pinakaimportante, so sana magtuloy-tuloy,” Castro said. “At the same time, yun mga, game of adjustments naman series so for sure mag-aadjust sila. Kailangan namin maging ready and at the same time iimprove pa namin yung mga mistake sa game na 'to.”