FIBA WC: Returning Castro, Rosario ready for vital roles vs Iran

Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro

After finally finishing serving their suspensions, Gilas Pilipinas mainstays Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario will be seeing action for the national team in an all-important affair against Iran on Monday, December 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Both Castro and Rosario were suspended multiple games after taking part in the infamous brawl during Gilas’ game against Australia in the third window of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers last July.

But the duo will now be part of head coach Yeng Guiao’s final 12 against the powerhouse Iranian squad, and each will have an important role to play.

“Excited ako ulit makalaro para sa national team. Makapag-provide ng leadership as one of the veterans. Yun yung kulang nila siguro, guidance, tapos kung ano ang kailangang itulong sa game against Iran which is sobrang importante,” Castro said.

Hailed as Asia’s best point guard twice, Castro will have big shoes to fill from the playmaking standpoint as Stanley Pringle, the top scorer from the Kazakhstan game last Friday, and Alex Cabagnot, are both taking a back seat.

It will also be Castro’s first game under the tutelage of Guiao, who replaced long-time Gilas head coacg Chot Reyes earlier this year.

Castro said he has been adjusting well to Guiao’s system and he knows what to deliver come game time.

“Okay naman. Within two weeks, nakuha ko anong mga gusto niyang ipagawa sa akin, tapos yung system niya, humihingi din akong advice sa mga naging under niya, especially kay Gabe (Norwood) and kay Beau (Belga),” Castro shared.

“Di naman mahirap yung pinapagawa sa akin as long as mag-stick ako sa mga pinapagawa sa akin.”

Rosario, meanwhile, will be expected to play the small forward position more often against Iran in a bid to contain their star forward Samad Nikkhah Bahrami.

“Sabi naman ni coach Yeng, andoon kami for defense purposes. Yun naman talaga trabaho namin. Kung maka-shoot kami ni Arwind (Santos), bonus na lang sa amin yun,” Rosario said.

Guiao noticeably loaded on the wing and forward positions, fielding in Norwood, Rosario, and Santos in hopes to bounce back from their initial loss against the taller Iranians during the fourth window.

“We can play better defense on Bahrami. Our match-up was only Gabe at that time. Our second best was Allein Maliksi. One reason pinaghandaan natin siya kaya size and quickness yung dinala natin. So that Gabe can get a reliever in the same mold, at sina Troy and Arwind ang napili natin,” Guiao shared.

Update: Samad Nikkhah Bahrami will not play for Iran against Gilas Pilipinas

Rosario will also look to exploit mismatches and take advantage of his versatility as he can also play as a stretch four.

“Yung quickness sa four position, kasi either three or four ako if ever may ma-foul trouble sa big man namin. Yung quickness sa depensa kasi switchable ako. Pwede ako mag-defend ng guards eh,” he said.

In spite of the loss to Kazakhstan, both Castro and Rosario are maintaining a positive mindset, which they hope to translate to an impressive performance on Monday.

“Maganda naman yung naging practice namin. Maganda yung tinakbo so sa tingin ko maganda yung chance namin bukas,” Rosario said.

“Sobrang this time ang focus namin vs Iran, after ng game against Kazakhstan sabi ni coach Yeng may chance pa mag-no. 2 sa group kapag natalo natin yung Iran. Marami rin kaming lesson na nakuha versus Kazakhstan. Yung mga mistake namin sana ma-apply namin yung mga lesson na mga yun,” Castro added.

“One of the veterans na ako dito sa Gilas so very important game. Excited pero parang natural game lang naman. Ayoko rin namang maging very excited ako na mawawala ka sa rhythm or focus. Parang kagaya lang ng dati.”

By Levi Verora, Jr.

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