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Castro vs Parker

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It’s no secret that ace guard Jayson Castro of Gilas Pilipinas considers Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs as one of the NBA players he looks up to, and one that he calls ‘idol’.

However, when the national team takes on France on Tuesday at the start of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) here, Castro said that ‘fan mode’ thing on Parker should be set aside – even for a while.

“Sobrang excited, syempre makakalaban mo yung isa sa mga ini-idolo mo,” said Castro Friday after the tune-up game between the Philippines and Turkey at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“Napapanood lang natin sila sa TV, pero eto ngayon makakalaban na namin yung ilang NBA players. Pero isang tabi muna natin yun pag-idolo, focus muna sa game,” added Castro.

The former two-time member of FIBA Asia’s Mythical Five admitted to feeling pressure since Gilas will be facing France – ranked No. 5 in the world – in Day 1 of the OQT slated July 5 to 10.

Most local basketball observers are fixated on the looming matchup between Castro, the 5-foot-11 native of Pampanga, and Parker – a four-time champion with the Spurs in the NBA.

Since he started playing for the national team during the 2013 Asian championship here, Castro has averaged 11.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists. In the last FIBA Asia in China, he averaged almost 17 points.

As for the 6-foot-2 Parker, he has been the leader of “Les Bleus” since joining the national team back in 2001.

Parker, 34, has career scoring average of 17.1 points in international events with 3 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

Parker has led his team to the Euro Basketball title in 2013, and in the way named MVP of the tournament. He was also named Europe’s Basketball Player of the Year in 2013 and 2014.

However, Castro said his focus is on team basketball, than individual plays.

“Kung sa Asia kaya siguro mag one-on-one, pero iba pagdating dito e, parang sa World Cup level na din ito, mahirap mag-one-on-one, team basketball talaga, and sa 40 minutes dapat ma-sustain,” said Castro.

“Alam naman natin na kapag anjan si Tony Parker sa France, maganda palagi linalaro nila. Sana matapatan namin yung energy nila. Dapat talaga more on team play sa amin, kapag Gilas yun talaga ang kailangan, more ball movement,” added Castro.