Nash Racela insists TNT exceeded expectations in his first conference in charge
Nash Racela says Game Seven could've seen a different story had injured guard Jayson Castro been available for the Texters. Jerome Ascano

TNT coach Nash Racela rued the absence of Jayson Castro that proved to be a major factor in the Texters’ 96-83 loss to San Miguel Beer in Game Seven of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.

The shorthanded Texters managed to keep in step with the full-strength Beermen in the first half that ended with them down by just two points, but saw the defending champions break away in the third quarter as they missed Castro, who's out with a strained hamstring.

“It's hard to sustain. It could have been a different story of course if Jayson played,” Racela said of Castro, who averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 assists in the first six games of the series. "We just tried to play our cards correctly, but it did not work.”

“Obviously we missed Jayson, but of course we don't want to take anything from the San Miguel win,” he added. “They did their part also.”

Racela conceded June Mar Fajardo’s dominance and Arwind Santos’ tough shots hurt the Texters the most.

“It was really hard to defend them, June Mar was inside and then nag-click din, while Arwind had two shots na nandun si Ryan (Reyes) sa harap niya,” Racela said. “Again, if you play a team like San Miguel na nakaka-shoot ng ganun, mahirap talaga.”

[See SMB takes drama out of Game Seven, seals place in PBA Finals]

Still, Racela felt the Texters overachieved in his first conference at the helm.

“I think the team exceeded expectations,” the former Far Eastern University coach said. “Nobody expected us to be in this position. I think even kayo eh, you were expecting a sweep by San Miguel, (but) twice in the series we were up. If not for that Game Six, edi alam mo na.”

And Racela is hoping the Texters keep their resurgence going starting in the Commissioner’s Cup.

“I think we realized we could compete again, kasi very inconsistent din ang Talk ‘N Text the last couple of years,” Racela said. “We would perform in one conference, then we’ll miss the other two conferences.”

“So hopefully hindi lang din isa,” he added. “We’ll try to sustain this next conference. Right now, we’re hoping to rest, recover, and prepare for the next conference.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos