Jayson Castro received the warmest of welcomes in his return as TNT blasted an import-less Rain or Shine, 110-91, to pick up its second win in a row in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Saturday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Playing his first game of the conference after recovering from an ankle injury, the ‘Blur’ finished with 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 13 minutes off the bench, together with four rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block.
“Kaya nagpapa-sub kaagad ako kasi ‘yung first three minutes, nakakapagod talaga,” quipped Castro, who recently signed a fresh extension that would keep him in TNT until 2025 even with a year left in his current contract.
“Pero ‘yun nga, nakita ko na kailangang mag-create para sa mga teammates ko,” he furthered. “Pinush namin ‘yung bola para high percentage shot, which is ‘yung layup and wide open three-points namin.”
The 36-year-old helped out in the Tropang Giga’s 32-point third-quarter explosion to put the game away for good after allowing the opposition to rally back from 22 down in the first half — even without Steve Taylor, Jr.
Taylor was out due to health and safety protocols, and his absence proved costly as the Elasto Painters dropped their second straight game.
“We still have to get to a point where we play a full, good 48 minutes,” offered head coach Chot Reyes. “That’s a process, because we had so many injuries. We never really got complete until very, very late.
“So, we just, hopefully, get a chance to win a lot of games while we’re trying to get better,” the five-time Coach of the Year furthered.
TNT actually took advantage of RoS missing the American reinforcement right from the start as it produced 41 points in the first quarter alone.
But Yeng Guiao’s wards responded with a fiery offensive outing of their own in the next frame, hitting the mark for 30 points while limiting their foes to just 14 to enter the halftime intermission behind by just five, 55-50.
The break, however, seemingly allowed the Tropa to regain their bearings, and Castro and Co. went on to regain control the rest of the way that eventually allowed Reyes to rest his starters and utilize the third stringers.
“We had a good first quarter but a really bad second quarter,” offered Reyes. “We lost the second quarter by 16 points to a team without an import. That doesn’t speak very well about our team.
“I think that’s a perfect reflection of where we are as a team now. We can play well in spurts, but we need to be able to put it together and play a full 48 minutes. And we’re not there yet,” he continued.
Cameron Oliver top-scored for TNT with 21 points and eight rebounds in the victory that improved their card to 2-1. Calvin Oftana and Roger Pogoy fired 15 points apiece, while Jaydee Tungcab chipped in 14 markers.
Now at third in the standings, the Tropang Giga will try to make it three in a row against NLEX on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 5:45 p.m. at the Philsports Arena.
Rey Nambatac led Rain or Shine with 20 points in the defeat, their worst this conference and since Guiao returned to the ball club.
Andrei Caracut had 12 points, and his fellow young guns Anton Asistio and Leonard Santillan added 11 apiece in the loss that dropped their card to 2-3.
The Elasto Painters hope to snap out of their funk sooner against Meralco next Saturday, Oct. 22, at 6:45 p.m. at the Philsports Arena as well.
TNT 110 – Oliver 21, Pogoy 15, Oftana 15, Tungcab 14, Castro 10, Montalbo 8, M. Williams 8, Alejandro 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 5 , Erram 4, K. Williams 2, Marcelo 2, Cruz 0.
Rain or Shine 91 – Nambatac 20, Caracut 12, Asistio 11, Santillan 11, Ildefonso 9, Belga 7, Mamuyac 4, Norwood 4, Ponferrada 4, Borboran 4, Demusis 2, Guinto 1, Nieto 1, Torres 1.
Quarterscores: 41-20, 55-50, 86-64, 110-91.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.