What a great luxury for TNT head coach Chot Reyes to have a guy like Jayson Castro when the game is on the line. For most of the time, "the Blur" never disappoints.
Seeming like a usual day in the office with no fancy celebrations, the veteran guard just walked off and raised his two hands, still wearing the calm and composed demeanor as if it's casual perimeter jumper. But it was a game-winner at the buzzer that bailed TNT out against SMB, 86-84, in Game 1 of the PBA Finals.
The same couldn't be said, however, in social media where fans went frenzy and flooded the internet space with various reactions — some of which sparked debate whether that final basket that put a dramatic ending to the series opener should be counted.
For Castro, there was no doubt he got it off on time.
"Sa akin naman, alam ko naman na natira ko siya before mag-buzzer," said Castro moments after the game. "Nasa referee naman ‘yung kung anong nakita nila e.”
Replays showed the ball still in Castro's hands when the game clock hits 0:00. In the next frame, when the LED in the backboard lit up bright red, the ball had already left Castro's hands — a fact that became the bone of contention why the referees counted the last gasp jumper.
"0:00.0 doesn’t mean there’s really no more time left. It could still mean 0:00.01 or 0:00.001. That’s why many leagues, even the NBA, follow the red LED lights around the backboard, which, when it turns on, means there is really no more time left," tweeted PBA chief statistician Fidel Mangonon.
Castro saved the day anew for TNT, reminiscent of the dagger trey he also drilled during Game 4 of its semifinals against Magnolia. Just like that time, Castro played down his heroics.
"Napapasakto lang, tsaka ‘yung confidence ng team at ng coaches siguro. Kailangan ko lang itira kasi ‘yun nga, napunta sa’kin ‘yung bola," he added.
His vintage performance also preserved a hot shooting display from teammates RR Pogoy and Mikey Williams who combined for 22 of the Tropang Giga's 33-point third quarter explosion that allowed them to erase a 15-point deficit and take a six-point cushion, 70-64, heading into the final frame.
Castro stressed that they should not fall to the same trap in Game 2 after TNT trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half.
"Sobrang sama ng first half namin kasi ang dami naming turnover... then ang dami rin naming missed free throws, ako apat ata," said Castro who wound up with 15 points in 22 minutes of play.
"Kailangan din namin i-fix ‘yung defense namin as a team, kasi noong first half, hindi kami nagco-communicate on defense."