TNT 122 – Ginebra 109, TNT wins series 3-1
We always talk about Jayson Castro as the best point guard in Asia, which is alright, but one thing we don’t often talk about the playmaker is how great he is exactly in clutch time minutes where the game could go either way.
On Saturday, with TNT needing just one game to advance to the Commissioner’s Cup finals, Castro was on a different plane. He had an extra gear, an extra round of nitro, an extra set of blades, extra ammo, you name it.
Just when Ginebra thought 20-point games each from Japeth Aguilar, Justin Brownlee, and LA Tenorio would be enough to salvage a win and force a winner-take-all decider on Monday, Castro entered a different dimension in the final eight minutes of the game.
Ginebra was still ahead 106-103 when TNT unleashed a 19-1 run over the next six minutes which sealed the fate of the Barangay.
The Blur accounted for 11 points in the stretch. He knocked down a three, had a well-timed swipe of a hand-off and fast break lay-up, and a difficult turnaround jump shot on top of dishing out two assists to Kelly Williams. The two players’ pick and roll game hurt Ginebra all night, and it was enough to overcome import Joshua Smith’s injury.
Castro finished with 38 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals. He shot an astounding 61 percent from the floor, and 62 percent from deep, and sank all of his seven free throw attempts.
He wasn’t alone in doing damage for the KaTropa; Smith came off the bench to add 18 points. RR Garcia had 16 points while Kelly Williams provided a double-double of 14 points and 12 boards.
TNT will face San Miguel Beer in the best-of-seven finals showdown starting on Wednesday next week.
Aguilar paced Ginebra with a masterful performance of his own, as he tallied 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting. Brownlee came three assists short of a triple-double, finishing with 25, 15, and seven. LA Tenorio chipped in 20 points and 10 assists.
When Ginebra was threatening to get back and level the series at two wins apiece, Castro turned things around by taking charge late in the game in a way only he knows how to do. He has grown throughout the years not just as TNT’s main offensive weapon, but also their closer. That’s what effective leaders do, and it couldn’t be more highlighted last Saturday.