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Jayson Castro played through ankle injury in Gilas' loss to Iran

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Jayson Castro played through injury (0:43)

Jayson Castro played through an ankle injury and scored 19 points in his first game back for Gilas Pilipinas. (0:43)

Jayson Castro suffered an ankle sprain in Gilas Pilipinas' 78-70 loss to Iran Friday in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Castro, who returned to the international stage after serving a three-game suspension, led the Philippines in scoring with 19 points, to go along with five rebounds and two assists.

"It's better if we won, I would have preferred that," Castro said on his impressive performance. "Hopefully next window, we can get the win."

Limping on his way out of the Mall of Asia Arena after the match, the veteran playmaker said he injured his right ankle midway through the second quarter. He played through the pain and even delivered 15 points in the second half to lead the charge.

"It's not an excuse that you got injured. I really forced myself to play to help the team, but then we still lost," said Castro.

Aside from the ankle injury, the TNT star also sustained a cut on the forehead after a hard foul from Rouzbeh Arghavan early in the final frame. He left the floor due to a mandatory substitution but he immediately checked back in after having his wound treated.

"It's part of the game. I played through it because we all know how important this game is," he said.

The Philippines was leading for majority of the game before Mohammad Jamshidi took over for Iran down the stretch. The visiting team silenced the crowd by forcing Gilas to commit crucial turnovers and launching a 9-0 finishing kick.

"We did everything, we gave our best," said Castro. "As you can see, we controlled the whole game. But in the last minute, we committed mistakes and at the same time, they made tough shots. Unfortunately, we lost."

After failing to defend homecourt twice this window, Gilas dropped to fourth place in Group F with a 5-5 record and fell behind Australia (9-1), Iran (7-3), and Japan (6-4).

Despite the unfavorable odds, Castro remains optimistic that the Philippines can bounce back in the final window slated in February to save its World Cup campaign.

"I'm confident that we can win in the last window," he said. "We just need to correct our mistakes and we need good preparation. The new system needs longer preparation so that we can be organized. Hopefully next window, I can join again."