Jayson Castro would be lying if he said he doesn’t feel delighted to win another Best Player of the Conference plum, but, obviously, he remains focused on the ultimate goal, winning a championship.
“Masaya, pero mas sasaya pa ako kung makuha namin ang conference championship,” Castro said after Talk ‘N Text tied the series at two-all on Wednesday.
A PBA title has been eluding the Tropang Texters for almost two seasons now, and with an intact crew that has been playing consistently altogether, there is no better moment than this conference to end the dry spell.
“Since Day 1 nitong conference na ito, championship talaga ang aim namin,” he said. “Since Day 1, gusto ko magchampion. Kailangan lang namin maging smart sa mga decision namin. Once maapektuhan kami, mahirap na. Maging focused lang kami and i-execute namin ang plays.”
Castro finished with 25 points, 4 rebounds, and 6 assists, while nursing a hamstring injury. More importantly, he finally found someone else who had the same aggressiveness all-game long.
Ranidel de Ocampo aided Castro and matched his career-high, firing 33 points and grabbing 5 rebounds to help the Tropang Texters win, 99-92.
Unlike in the first half of the series, where it would be all Castro trying to carry his team, De Ocampo provided ample help. The forward, who shot 14-for-20 from the field, kept attacking the defense and finished strong around the basket. He was 11-for-13 from inside the arc (Talk ‘N Text led 44-34 in points in the paint).
“Kahit sino naman pwede mag-step up sa amin. Gusto namin ituloy ang panalo, kasi si Jayson may iniinda rin. Masakit yung hita niya. Pinipilit lang niya maglaro,” De Ocampo said.
Two years ago, Castro and De Ocampo went 1 and 2 in SLAM Philippines’ #PBARank. Until now, they have been relevant to the league, and the greatness they’ve shown is hard to match.
De Ocampo is still one of the most efficient two-way forwards in the league. While Castro, a phenom in the 7 years he has spent in the league, continues to prove that he is a once-in-a-generation talent.
Both players are integral parts of the Tropang Texters system, and both are determined to end the drought for the team.