Castro shines in clutch, TNT takes 1-0 semis lead over Phoenix
MANILA, Philippines — Jayson Castro once again proved his caliber in the closing moments as he lifted TNT to a 95-92 win over Phoenix to take a 1-0 series lead in the five-game semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday at Angeles University Foundation.
With the Tropang Giga holding on to an 87-86 lead, Castro was there to give his team a sizable buffer hitting a contested three from the top of the arc for the 90-86 lead with 1:14 left to play.
He then gave TNT the 92-88 lead with 26.5 seconds remaining converting on a layup over Calvin Abueva off of Simon Enciso’s missed triple.
“We’re glad that we have Jayson,” said TNT head coach Bong Ravena. “His seniority really showed up tonight and also his leadership. That’s what we need from Jayson.”
“His execution was there and he’s always making good decisions. We’re fortunate he was able to make those important baskets.”
Jason Perkins had the chance to tie the game with seven seconds left but he only made one of his two free throws allowing TNT to hold on to a 93-92 lead while Alex Mallari’s buzzer-beating attempt, that could’ve forced overtime, fell short at the end of regulation.
Matthew Wright, the Fuel Masters’ hero in their quarterfinals series against Magnolia, sat out much of the game after suffering an ankle sprain in the first quarter when his foot landed on Troy Rosario’s.
TNT also suffered an injury scare after Poy Erram sprained his left ankle when he landed on Bobby Ray Parks Jr.’s right foot with 1:58 left in the fourth.
Castro finished with 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists while Parks had 17 points, seven rebounds, and four steals for TNT.
RJ Jazul led the Fuel Masters with 21 points while Perkins added 15 points and 10 boards.