MANILA, Philippines – One of the more interesting subplots in the upcoming 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals is the point guard match-up between TNT's Jayson Castro and San Miguel Beer's Chris Ross.
Castro remains the engine that drives the KaTropa's offense, and even when his shot has not been falling, his superb playmaking continues to give TNT's opponents problems. In the semifinals against Ginebra, "The Blur" was initially a facilitator, before exploding for 38 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds in the series-clinching Game 4.
Ross will likely be the primary defender that SMB Coach Leo Austria will send to guard Castro, and the veteran playmaker is surely up to the task. After all, Ross remains the league's finest defensive guard, capable of turning a game's momentum with a timely steal. On the other end, he has greatly improved as a scorer, and is shooting 52.7% from the field and 40% from beyond the arc.
Both guards are already anticipating a tough series against each other.
"Playing against Jayson is always tough," Ross said in a press conference on Monday. "Over the years, he's gotten so much better at running his team and getting everybody involved and being able to score."
"It's always tough going against TNT, but it's more than just me vs. Jayson, or Jayson vs. me," he quickly added.
It was a sentiment shared by Castro, who pointed out that the Finals series is not a one-on-one contest.
"Hindi Castro vs. Ross ito," said the TNT superstar. "Basketball is a team game."
Castro pointed out that more than the individual match-up between point guards, it is the teams' ability to make adjustments that will likely decide the series.
"'Yung both teams, kung paano maga-adjust sa isa't isa pagdating ng series," he expressed.
Playing defense as a team will be of paramount importance against a player of Castro's caliber, Ross also noted. While he will be the primary defender against "The Blur," Ross is confident that his teammates will have his back when it comes to trying to stop Castro.
"When you're playing a great player, it's about team defense, not one-on-one. It's about having four guys behind me," he explained. "Basketball is a team game. It's all about game-planning and taking the challenge as a team."
One SMB player who may find himself matched-up against Castro as well is Alex Cabagnot, who admitted that "The Blur" and the TNT import will be the focus of their defense.
"We're gonna definitely have an eye out for him. We're focusing on him," Cabagnot said of Castro. "There are a lot of people to focus on, pero siyempre, he scored 38 points (against Ginebra). So we have to really put a premium on Jayson. Alam niyo naman na magaling si Jayson."
Game 1 of the best-of-7 Finals series is on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
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