There’s not a lot of guards in the PBA who can step toe-to-toe with Jayson Castro.
But after TNT’s quarterfinals series against Meralco in the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, the veteran guard didn’t deny that sophomore playmaker Baser Amer pushed him to his limit.
“[Amer] didn’t just challenge me. He really pushed me. I studied his moves from Game 2 because he was really great off ball screens. He looks for mismatches and attacks those. Every kind of defense I know of, I did it against him,” said Castro in Filipino.
The two went at it for three hard-fought games, culminating on Friday in a decider that that was fought until the overtime period.
Castro was his usual self, racking up 31 points, three rebounds, and two assists, while Amer was a willing dance partner, matching up with his older counterpart and finished with 25 markers, nine boards, four dimes, and three steals.
However, it was TNT who gained the upper hand in the extra five minutes to come away with a 104-96 overtime victory.
“He was exhausted in overtime because we did schemes against him,” shared Castro. “We did a lot of schemes against him, most of which wasn’t effective. So the last thing we did was to deny him and make it hard for him to get the ball so we can tire him out.”
That gameplan worked as the KaTropa frustrated the Bolts in the extra five minutes and held the upstart scoreless.
Still, Castro said that Amer could keep his head held high especially with the way he has made the leap this conference.
“I’m really glad to see how he has improved from last year, at the same time, his confidence is already there. For sure, he’ll still improve. We saw his decision-making, his heart is already there. For sure, he’ll be a top point guard in the PBA,” he said.
Castro and the rest of TNT will now brace for Ginebra in the best-of-five semifinals series, to begin on Sunday.