SMART CLARK GIGA CITY–TNT coach Bong Ravena admitted that the absence of key players Jayson Castro and Ray Parks Jr. was gravely felt in Game Four of their PBA Philippine Cup Finals battle against Barangay Ginebra.
Castro went down after a strong drive at the 9:35 mark of the third quarter and limped his way to the sidelines with the help of Harvey Carey and Jayjay Alejandro.
The 34-year-old Gilas Pilipinas star, who was already playing through a calf injury, hurt his left knee after dealing with bone spurs and joined statistical points leader Parks (left calf strain) in the Tropang Giga’s injury list.
Parks has been out since Game Two after aggravating his pre-bubble season injury in TNT’s 100-94 overtime loss in the finals opener where he topscored with 20 points.
With two key players missing, Ginebra built an 18-point lead before surviving TNT’s late fightback led by Roger Pogoy to come out with a 98-88 victory on Sunday night and move a win away from its first all-Filipino title since 2007.
Ravena said it could have been a different ball game with Castro and Parks on the court.
“Definitely, kung nandyan lang sila, malamang ‘di kami ganun ka-dehado. Alam mo ‘yun, may tao-tao, maganda sana rin. Kaso pag wala ‘yung dalawa, talagang ang layo ng discrepancy,” said the 50-year-old mentor.
Castro finished with two points, two assists and two rebounds in only 17 minutes of play.
Ravena bared that Castro and Parks are now in a day-to-day situation heading into the Tropang Giga’s do-or-die Game Five on Wednesday.
“Parehong day-to-day na sila. ‘Di mo naman mapipilit eh. ‘Di pa naman tapos lahat. They still need to win one game. Basta kami we’ll just try and try to win the game, take it one game at a time.”
Ravena is now looking for his other players to step up in case Castro and Parks or even one of them will not play, starting with second-string guard Almond Vosotros who impressively took on the playmaking duties late in the game.
“Good thing, may nakita kami like si Almond, pwede namin palang hugutin the next game. Hangga’t maaari, lahat ng makita namin na pwedeng maka-contribute, huhugutin namin.”
“Next man up (mentality), ‘yun ang kailangan namin. Hopefully on Wednesday, ready kami.”