Gilas’ Castro calls for unity for the next Fiba Asia
CHANGSHA CITY, China – Jason Castro earned a consolation for Team Philippines by being named as the point guard in the Fiba Asia Championship’s Mythical Team, and like the great sentinel that he is, assessed the situation “ailing” the national team.
“We know that we can beat them (China), and they (Chinese) know that,” Castro told the Inquirer in Filipino, while the hosts were celebrating with their home crowd for winning the gold medal and the continent’s lone Olympic berth after a 78-67 victory at Changsha Social Work College gym here lateSaturday night.
“We are so proud of what we have achieved here,” Castro continued. “It’s not bad for a team that has been together for just two months and even without some of the players that we need (from the PBA).”
Without really naming names, Castro knows the internal politics in the pro league back home, and that getting some of the players who were no-brainers for national team inclusions would have helped Gilas Pilipinas a great stead.
San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo, Barangay Ginebra’s LA Tenorio, Rain or Shine’s Paul Lee and Jeff Chan – Gilas veterans all – were in the original wish list of coach Tab Baldwin, though only Fajardo’s name was included in the final 16 Baldwin named to his pool on August 3.
Coming off a second straight MVP in the PBA, the 6-foot-10 Fajardo complained of plantar fasciaitis on both feet and excused himself from national duty, while Lee and Chan were reportedly not released by Elasto Painters’ management.
Tenorio, the Jones Cup MVP in 2012 and a veteran of the World Cup last year in Seville, Spain, cited fatigue and poor form for begging off.
China asserted its might and athleticism in dismantling the Filipinos in the gold medal game, shutting down everyone in the Gilas roster and allowing just one player – naturalized center Andray Blatche – to finish in twin digits.
Castro himself felt the brunt of China’s size and heft.
“Let’s admit it, they’re really big and they used their advantage well, even using the referees,” Castro explained after finishing with just eight points on 3-of-14 shooting from the field.
“They changed the shots we are usually comfortable with and challenged every shot that we took,” he said. “They played an up-tempo game just when we were trying to slow it down.”
Castro remained firm in his belief that the Chinese – built for a long domination of the region with a team centered on NBA veteran Yi Jianlian – can be had in the future.
But the Philippines has to have all hands on deck for this to be achieved, and Asia’s point guard knows the very thing needed to make this happen:
“I just hope that we all unite, it is for a common goal after all, for the next Fiba Asia.”
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