MANILA, Philippines -- TNT guard Jayson Castro was filled with pride after watching a young Gilas Pilipinas squad overwhelm Indonesia, 100-70, in their first game of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers last Sunday.
Castro, a two-time Mythical Team selection in the FIBA Asia Cup, saw how a team that featured five amateurs buck a slow start and a foul-plagued game to eventually pull away for a fine start to their qualifying campaign.
"Sobrang happy ako at saka proud, kasi 'yun nga, nakikita 'yung mga young guys na nagpe-perform nang ganoon. Parang nakaka-proud, 'di ba?" said Castro, who is often hailed as Asia's best point guard for his exploits with the national team.
"'Yung mga young guys na nagi-step up, hopefully magtuloy-tuloy 'yung magandang performance nila," he said.
He was especially impressed with the performance of Thirdy Ravena, who topscored with 23 points along with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. The former Ateneo de Manila University star was later named as part of the "next wave" of FIBA Asia stars.
"Sobrang reding-ready na," Castro said of the younger Ravena, a three-time Finals MVP in the UAAP. "Hindi lang reding-ready; kaya niyang mag-dominate."
Aside from Thirdy, also showing their wares in the game were Juan Gomez de Liano, Matt Nieto, and Dwight Ramos. Castro's own TNT teammates, Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario, combined for 23 points and 11 rebounds in the game.
Castro also commended the leadership shown by NLEX point guard Kiefer Ravena, who was named captain of the national team for the first qualifying window. He went on to score 10 points with 3 assists and 4 steals in the win.
"Big responsibility para sa kanya, pero alam naman ng lahat na kayang-kaya niyang gampanan 'yun," he said.
"Napakataas naman ng basketball IQ niya, kaya hindi ko na kailangan turuan," he added. "Sobrang close kami ni Kiefer eh. Since Gilas, siya 'yung roommate ko after ni Jimmy (Alapag). So every time na nagkikita kami, marami kaming pinag-uusapan."
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