By Jon Carlos RodriguezJayson Castro is a superhero who was put on this earth to play basketball. That’s just a fact. But to be more specific, he plays basketball to attack the basket and score on lay-ups over defenders a foot taller than him, the Junemar Fajardos and the Hamed Haddadis of the world.
Castro is 5-foot-10, and this makes his life purpose even more incredible. Height has been an issue, not for Castro, but for sorry fools on the losing end of a Jayson Castro highlight.
“I’m 6-foot-4, why can’t I do what Jayson Castro does?” is an existential question some may ask. “I’m a 7-footer, how do I stop Jayson Castro?” could also be a common inquiry from those left dumbfounded by Castro’s brilliance. There has been no answer. And only more scoring highlights to binge-watch.
This is why July 7, 2016 nearly became the saddest day in Philippine basketball. This was the date Castro “retired” from the national team, saying “it’s time to hand over the responsibility to the younger generation.”
But, in true superhero form, Castro, the man they call “The Blur,” suited up when he was called to serve a year later—his costume, still the familiar jersey with “William” at the back and “Pilipinas” at the front; his superpower, still getting to the basket for lay-ups.
Watching Castro drive to the basket is always enlightening, like a Manny Pacquiao knockout punch or a Vic Sotto punchline, it just feels right. He used his lay-ups to break the curse of Korea in 2013 and to re-introduce Philippine basketball to the world in 2014.
“Pinakamagandang nangyari sa buhay namin lahat ‘yun kasi even na natalo tayo, pinakita natin na lumalaban tayo,” Castro said of the 2014 FIBA World Cup run.
Two FIBA Asia Mythical Five selections, a couple of medals, one retirement, and two 20-point games at the 2017 FIBA World Cup qualifiers, Castro is still fighting. May he never get tired.
A Castro lay-up is always divine and never half-assed, just like every international performance he’s starring in. He never mails it in, but rather, he braves his way through one, two defenders, barrels through giants, and swoops in for a smooth lay-up. May he never retire.
But as a post-Jayson Castro world approaches, there will be others ready to take on the challenge. The Terrence Romeos and the Kiefer Ravenas of the world are out there, learning from the mistakes and, of course, the heroics of Castro. May they continue to learn from the best superhero point guard in Asia.
Watch Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and Jimmy Alapag talk about the time Gilas broke the Korea curse in this episode of Where Were You When?
[Photos by Jeff Arrienda; videos from YouTube]