Toughest nut to crack
Now at the tail end of his prime, TNT Ka Tropa superstar guard Jayson Castro still remains as a matchup nightmare for backcourt players in the PBA.
Just ask Barangay Ginebra star Scottie Thompson, who said that even with scouting reports on Castro’s tendencies, the TNT Ka Tropa guard is still a handful for teams in the league.
With his length, agility and athleticism, Thompson is among the league’s elite backcourt defenders and has played a key role in the last four championships of the Gin Kings, which makes his praise of the fleet-footed Castro even more noteworthy.
The “Blur” is now 33 and on his 11th season in the league, winning six championships and five Best Player of the Conference (BPC) awards, good for second overall with Danny Ildefonso, who has two Most Valuable Player awards.
A regular-season MVP, however, has eluded the pride of Pampanga, who was named best point guard of Asia twice in the Fiba Asia Championships, with the first coming in the 2013 edition in Manila where Gilas Pilipinas booked a return to the Fiba World Cup in Seville, Spain, the following year after beating South Korea in a thriller that left hometown fans in tears at SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“The scouting report helps, but Jayson Castro is Jayson Castro,” Thompson said during an episode of the online show “Sports Locked & Loaded.”
“He just finds a way to score. He can’t be stopped. You can only limit him so that’s the goal that we always shoot for when we face TNT.”
Thompson has yet to face Castro in the finals, although in the three times the Kings and KaTropa battled each other in the playoffs with Scottie around, TNT still holds the edge, 2-1, including the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup semifinals when it disposed of Barangay Ginebra in four games. Castro went on to win the BPC for his exploits.
Castro acknowledged the difficulty of staying consistent especially with the league still suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been such a challenge for me competing at this level,” Castro said last year. “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.”
The KaTropa came close to winning a title with Terrence Jones as an import last season in the Commissioner’s Cup. They were the heavy favorites to snap a long title drought only to run into the seventh-seeded San Miguel Beermen and Chris McCullough in the Finals and lose in six games.
It was the closest brush to success that TNT has had in years, and with time ticking on Castro’s career, it is understandable why he feels that winning a title is very important.
And Thompson, obviously, is not about to oblige.