Jayson Castro plunged back into action the way Ranidel de Ocampo did the last time, giving Talk n Text a lot more teeth offensively as the Tropang Texters crushed the NLEX Road Warriors, 108-89, in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome Tuesday night.
Castro, the Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference, instantly made his presence felt in his return from a three-game layoff, helping the Texters move up to joint second place with the Alaska Aces and the Kia Carnival at 3-1.
The prolific guard hardly showed rustiness from his inactivity since they won the Commissioner’s Cup crown, leading the TNT locals in scoring with 19 points, including four three-pointers.
He went 6-of-14 from the field and added five rebounds, five assists and one steal in a little over 28 minutes of action off the bench.
Import Steffphon Pettigrew topscored with 26 points while four other Texters put in at least 10 markers as they sent the Road Warriors tumbling down to 1-4.
Talk n Text played with a more balanced rotation and balanced game, withstanding the 20-point games of Asi Taulava, Kwame Alexander and Michel Madanly.
The Texters easily negated the big numbers of Taulava, Alexander and Madanly with the TNT bench overpowering their NLEX counterparts, 58-7. Only new acquisition John Wilson (with three) and Rico Villanueva (with four) scored among the NLEX reserves.
“The roster is complete. What’s hard now is to divide the minutes. Hopefully, we get the right combinations,” said Talk n Text coach Jong Uichico.
Castro came out with guns ablaze, helping fuel a run that gave the Texters a 13-point lead, 57-44, at the half. And the FIBA World Cup veteran had his contribution as the Texters kept the Road Warriors at bay in the final half.
“Wala sa isip ko that I will play him that long because he’s not yet practicing with the team,” said Uichico of Castro.
The Road Warriors hung around for as long as they could while drawing 25 points and 13 rebounds from Taulava, 22 markers and 16 boards from Alexander and 22 points from Madanly.
The NLEX Asian import also logged five assists, two rebounds and one steal before sitting out the closing minutes after being hit by cramps.
It was his best game after a 26-point PBA debut cut short by an injury.
The Road Warriors were still in the battle at 84-91 before the Texters unleashed a 13-2 run to make it 104-86 with time down to 1:33. (SB)
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