MANILA, Philippines – Jayson Castro has been officially ruled out of the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, after the veteran guard suffered a muscle strain in TNT's recent defeat to NLEX in the ongoing PBA Governors' Cup.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone confirmed after Monday's practice that Castro will need four to six weeks to fully recover from the injury, making it all but impossible for him to join the national team.
"Jayson is just such a huge blow. I mean, I don’t know how we’re gonna recover from him," said Cone. "Obviously, we have to move on, but that’s a huge blow."
Castro could be back in practice in four weeks, but Cone doubts it will be enough time for him to get back in shape and learn the system that they are putting in place. A more realistic estimate is for "The Blur" to return in five to six weeks.
"As it turns out, too late for us," said Cone, as the basketball competition in the SEA Games starts on December 4.
"So sayang, but we hope him the best and I'm sure he's gonna be there at the games and helping us out and cheering us on. So again, it's a big blow," he added.
In the meantime, Cone will try to replace Castro in the national team's 15-man pool, if given the go-signal by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
"We're waiting for word on the SBP if we can add someone to our 15-man pool, 'cause I think that 15-man pool has been submitted already to the SEA Games. So I’m not sure if we can add somebody outside," said Cone.
"But that was the reason why we got 15, in case we did have an injury, in case with two or three injuries, we’d still have 12 we can go with," he added.
If allowed, Cone said they already have four PBA players in mind who can step up and join the team.
"I don't want to say it, because I don't want to get their hopes up that that might happen for them, but we have I would say four players in mind that we would have to select from," he said.
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