The road to a fourth straight Philippine Cup crown won’t be easy, but cat-quick guard Jason Castro is ready to face the challenge.
Dishing off the gutsy all-around performance he’s known for amid some injuries to key personnel, the 5’8” Castro stood tallest despite the opposition to tow the Texters to three straight victories in a span of six days.
The former Philippine Christian University standout said playing without the team’s top defensive player Ryan Reyes for much of the conference has served as a motivation for him to level his game up further in what coach Norman Black labeled as “hell week”.
Castro, last season’s Philippine Cup Best Player of the Conference tallied 13 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished off three assists combining with fellow Gilas Pilipinas stalwart Ranidel de Ocampo in the second half to turn back Rain or Shine, 90-87.
The 27-year-old Castro then exploded for 23 points, six rebounds and nine assists three days later, in the absence of backcourt mate Jimmy Alapag, leading Talk ‘N Text to an 87-80 overtime victory over a tough Barako Bull side.
On Sunday, Castro remained in command, using his quickness to outwit his defenders en route to the Texters’ 87-82 win over the Air21 Express.
Castro’s 21-point, six-rebound effort against the Express completed Talk ‘N Text’s tough but gratifying week that saw the three-time all-Filipino conference champion improve its record to 6-2.
“Sinabi ni coach na kailangan ko mag-step up every game. Wala kasi si Ryan since the start of the conference so kailangan every game, nandun ako lagi,” said a soft-spoken Talk ‘N Text guard, whose sterling performance earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps. Player of the Week for the period of December 15-22, edging out Barangay Ginebra’s athletic forward Japeth Aguilar.
Castro said despite their three-game winning roll, the Texters will have to guard themselves from complacency as they continue in their quest for a league record fourth straight all-Filipino title this season.(pr/photo by kc cruz)