Jayson Castro proves he still has it
For his topnotch playmaking and leadership, TNT stalwart Jayson Castro was rewarded with the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) award last Sunday, besting a young crop of stars and the league’s all-time leader of the tournament’s top individual honors.
And the KaTropa point guard couldn’t help but express his disbelief in snaring his fifth BPC, much less topping a perennial winner of the plum and the league’s current Most Valuable Player in June Mar Fajardo.
“At my age, I was still able to get one? I guess, at least, you are all still seeing my hard work,” he told reporters in Filipino shortly after that night’s Game 4.
Not only did Castro hike his overall tally of BPCs to move alongside Danny Ildefonso at second place, but the TNT skipper also made himself eligible to win his first season Most Valuable Player award after 11 years in the league.
Castro garnered 1,077 points to eclipse Fajardo, who drew 762, and this season’s top three freshmen in Ray Parks Jr. (576), CJ Perez (426), and Robert Bolick (421).
But that is merely a secondary goal for Castro, whose league-best assists average of 6.0 has helped TNT gain top-seeding and earn a shot at a first title after 11 barren conferences.
“It has been such a challenge for me competing at this level,” he said prior to the series. “I’m at the point where I feel like I’m past my peak, so this is the best time for me to win a championship.”
Castro has won six PBA titles—all with TNT. Five of those came with the now-retired Jimmy Alapag as his backcourt partner.
Focus on games ahead
“I actually couldn’t remember when was the last time we made it here,” Castro even said in a previous interview, noting that he had to tuck that memory away because it was just too much to look back to.
“The last time we got into the Finals, we fell terribly short,” he added.
For now, Castro will have to focus on the games ahead rather than his place among the league’s greats as he feels like this is the best time for his team to assert their place at the top.
“During the off-season, we all committed to give our best, and then see where it will take us,” he shared.
“During the eliminations, we saw what we were capable of. I know the Finals is another thing,” he said. The Katropa were locked in a tiebreaking Game 5 battle with the San Miguel Beermen at press time.
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