Life after Gilas: Jayson Castro out to bring back TNT’s lost glory

TNT combo guard Jayson Castro said beating a souped-up Rain or Shine side is already a huge confidence booster for his team, which opened the PBA Governors Cup without several of its key players.

Big men Kelly Williams is still recovering from an MCL sprain on his knee while swingman Matt Ganuelas-Rosser could be out for a few more games as he recuperates from surgery on his foot and big toe.

The worst part is, TNT rookie forward Troy Rosario suffered a minor sprain on his knee after colliding with teammate Danny Seigle in practice on Monday.

Castro said TNT coach Jong Uichico’s pre-game message was simple: don’t go down without a fight.

And fight, the Katropa did as they completed a comeback from double-digit deficit to upstage the Elasto Painters, 101-98 in the main game on Wednesday night.

“Iyun lang naman gusto ni coach na ipakita naming lumalaban kami kahit wala mga bigs namin saka kulang kulang kami,” Castro said, who hit the go-ahead three-pointer in the dying seconds to cap TNT’s 11-0 windup and seal the win.

Though coming off a tiring campaign with Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament over a week ago, Castro already rejoined TNT after just a 7-day rest, putting into mind his mission of helping the franchise regain its once elite PBA status.

“Okay lang yun (brief rest after FIBA OQT) kasi lagi naman kaming out eh, ” he said.

“Importante sa amin na makapasok sana sa semis kasi 3 conferences na kami wala lagi (deep in the playoffs) saka china-challenge din kami ng management at coaches na ibalik yung dating TNT,” added the 30-year-old Castro, who officially declared that his latest Gilas Pilipinas campaign was his last stint with the national team.

TNT actually won the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last season, but failed to defend it this year after a roller-coaster ride made worse by the banning of comebacking import Ivan Johnson. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava