Jayson Castro leads short-handed TNT past Magnolia

Vintage Jayson Castro showed up and made sure shorthanded TNT got off to a winning start in its PBA Philippine Cup title defense.

Rising to the occasion in the absence of top gun Mikey Williams, Castro dropped 13 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Tropang Giga to a pulsating 78-72 victory over Magnolia Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Castro, who presided over a telling 13-2 assault in the last two minutes, finished with 16 markers along with six assists to backstrop Troy Rosario’s 22-10 double-double.

“Obviously, without our most potent offensive weapon (Williams), we had to rely on our defense,” said TnT coach Chot Reyes, whose squad held the Hotshots to a single field goal in the homestretch. “The only way we can win is to limit the production and scoring of the other team. Fortunately, that happened tonight.”

“You could see we were bleeding for our points, it was very hard for us to score a basket. But we were expecting this; we knew we’re gonna struggle not only without Mikey but also Kelly (Williams) as well. So it was a matter of grinding it out, hankering down on defense and displaying grit,” he added.

Mikey, the Rookie of the Year awardee and Mythical First Team member of Season 46, is still renegotiating his contract with the Tropang Giga while Kelly, a member of the All-Defensive Team, was sidelined by a calf injury.

Without the two, Reyes drew heavier production from Glen Khobuntin and Matt Ganuelas Rosser, who each shot nine, as RR Pogoy chipped in eight.

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