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With Williams out, veteran Castro ready to step up

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA Jayson Castro gets ready to step up to the plate as TNT Tropang Giga decide to let go of star guard Mikey Williams.

Veteran Jayson Castro is ready to reclaim his old role as top gunner following the termination of the contract of Mikey Williams with TNT Tropang Giga in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Castro said he feels that there’s a pressing need for him to step up after the Tropang Giga decided to formally terminate the contract of the controversial Filipino-American playmaker.

Williams is still under contract with the Tropang Giga until 2025 but refused to report for duty reportedly due to his contract dispute with the management.

With that, the Tropang Giga, headed by team governor Ricky Vargas, formally decided to terminate his contract to make sure that he would no longer receive his salary in accordance with the Uniform Players’ Contract.

TNT, however, has kept his rights to make sure that he will not be able to sign elsewhere should he decide to return to the PBA.

“He has caused us to terminate his contract by his continued absence,” Vargas told Daily Tribune in a Viber message.

“He has forced our hand. If he wanted to talk, it should be in good faith. He is no longer in the lineup and has breached his contract with us.”

Vargas stressed that they are not inclined to trade their disgruntled star just to resolve the situation.

“We kept his playing rights. Sanctions have been imposed and will continue, but no to trade talks whatsoever,” Vargas added.

With Williams, as well as injured stars like Roger Pogoy, Poy Erram, and Justin Chua, out, the Tropang Giga has to turn to Castro for additional firepower as they seek to claim the title in this season-opening conference.

In their 101-98 overtime against Converge, the 37-year-old Castro was at his best as he delivered 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes of action.

In fact, nine of his total output came in the fourth period as the Tropang Giga pulled off a heart-stopping win without their versatile import in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Hollis-Jefferson, who had a busy off-season as he played for Jordan in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and the 19th Asian Games, was ejected after accidentally hitting Mike Nieto with the ball in the final 42 seconds of the third period.

He was slapped with a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2 that merited an automatic ejection.

But Castro delivered, saying that he has to step up due to the absence of Williams.

“Yeah, part of my preparation to play like this was because of him (Williams) since he is not yet with the team,” Castro said.

“I really need to play extended minutes.”

“I really have to take care of my body, so I can contribute more for the team, but for sure, the injured players will be returning from injuries. Hopefully, we can fast track their return, so once we reach the playoffs, all of us will remain fresh.”

He said they remain focused despite their problem with Williams.

“Mikey’s situation is beyond our control,” Castro said.

“It’s really up to the management. Whoever is in the team right now, the things we can control, these are the only things that we have to deal with.”

“We’re leaving it to the management. They’re the ones talking to Mikey. For us players, we just got ourselves ready for this season. We prepare for every game at practice and whoever is available need to step up.”

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