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7 Jayson WILLIAM (Philippines)
03/01/2017
Asia
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Jayson Castro to unretire for Gilas Pilipinas

MANILA (FIBA Asia Cup 2017) - Asian basketball fans may not have seen the last of Jayson Castro just yet. The man Filipinos call "The Blur" retired from international basketball right after the FIBA OQT 2016 in Manila, but recent developments have pushed him back into the Gilas Pilipinas limelight.

Current reports indicate that Castro, regarded by many as Asia’s best point guard, is willing to come out of retirement if he is called up by returning national team coach Chot Reyes, who recently replaced Tab Baldwin.

The 24-man Gilas pool for 2017 was supposed to be announced in mid-December, but the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) has been mum so far. Filipino fans expect 12 spots of the pool reserved for the 12 "Gilas Cadets" who just got drafted into the PBA this season. Most of these players saw action for the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Challenge 2016, where Gilas missed the Quarter-Finals for the first time in history.

One additional player from each of the twelve PBA teams will also be added to the list, completing the pool. Expected to be shoo-ins, aside from Castro, are Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar, Terrence Romeo and reigning PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo.

It is still unclear if Gilas will be tapping a naturalized player for their first tournament this year, the Southeast Asia Basketball Association Championship 2016. Only the champion of that competition will earn an outright berth to the FIBA Asia Cup 2016, and with ASEAN competition on the rise, the Philippines can ill-afford to take their less heralded foes lightly.

Castro's return, if it does take shape, won’t be too surprising, though, given his history with coach Chot. Castro and Reyes go way back. Reyes was Castro’s former coach in the PBA, and it was Reyes who gave Castro his big break on the international stage in the FIBA Asia Championship 2013 and FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014.

"If he's invited to rejoin Gilas, Jayson told me he'll play for sure," said Danny Espiritu, Castro's agent.

One possible unintended consequence of Castro's possible return, though, is that his current PBA teammates like Ranidel De Ocampo and the up-and-coming Troy Rosario will not likely be called up given how the PBA agreed to cede just one player (in addition to the cadets) per club to the national team. It’s a set-up that’s far from ideal, but it’s one that has been seen as a reasonable compromise between the PBA and the SBP.

With this, it's possible to see Castro play in the SEABA Championship 2017, the SEA Games 2017, the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 and perhaps even in the qualifiers for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. The first window of home-and-away qualifying games is in November.

Castro will turn 31 in June, and should still be a very productive player on the international stage.

FIBA