TNT shows true potential with Castro leading the way in Game 3

Jayson Castro of TNT handles the ball against LA Tenorio of Barangay Ginebra in Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday. PBA Images

SMART CLARK GIGA CITY--Jayson Castro commended TNT's solid composure in Game Three of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals that enabled them to avoid another meltdown against Barangay Ginebra.

After wasting big chances in the first two games, the Tropang Giga took care of their lead this time around as they dominated the Kings, 88-67, to make it a 2-1 affair in the best-of-seven clash on Friday night at the AUF Arena. 

"During their run, 'yung composure lang namin nandun. Natuto na kami dun sa dalawang games namin na close," said the veteran guard Castro. 

Same with Game Two, TNT went ahead by 15 points early in the third quarter, 49-34, on Roger Pogoy's layup but Ginebra clawed its way back behind the duo of Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio to close in within two, 54-56, at the 2:52 mark. 

Castro did not want the Tropang Giga to terribly collapse again as he knocked down a triple which signaled a 10-2 counter for a double-digit buffer, 66-56, heading to the payoff period. 

TNT continued its torrid shooting in the final frame to further widen the gap, 80-61, on Simon Enciso's trey with 6:48 left before Ginebra coach Tim Cone started to pull out his starters and just look forward to the next game. 

The 34-year-old Castro acknowledged the restored confidence within the team compared to what they had in the first two games. 

"Confident lang kami i-shoot 'yung mga wide open shots namin unlike nung first and second game. Medyo hesitant kaming tumira nun pero 'yun ang binibigay nila na wide open naman so tinitira lang namin." 

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Five TNT players scored in twin digits, with Pogoy notching a team-high 18 points followed by Castro and Troy Rosario with 15 markers, Enciso with 14 and Poy Erram with 12. 

Castro also shone on his facilitating role with 10 of the team's 19 assists.  

The Gilas Pilipinas star said there is no reason to dwell on what could have been an advantageous situation for the Tropang Giga in the series had they taken care of their lead in the first two matches. 

TNT was up by two when rookie forward Arvin Tolentino hit a layup off Tenorio's pass to send Game One to overtime before Ginebra ran away with a 100-94 win. 

The Tropang Giga then squandered a 15-point lead in the third quarter and a seven-point buffer with over four minutes left in the fourth only to lose 92-90 in Game Two. 

"'Di naman (nanghihinayang) kasi marami rin kaming natutunan sa Game One and Game Two. Ganun talaga pagdating sa series, kailangan mo ng short-term memory. Kailangan mag-move on agad," said Castro. 

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"Sa'kin as a veteran and for the coaching staff, 'yun ang sinasabi namin sa mga bata. Lesson learned na lang sa'min 'yung Game One and Game Two. Kailangan lang namin na ma-tie up 'yung series."