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After missing on Jayson Castro, Tim Cone ecstatic to finally have 'Asia's best guard'

Jayson Castro agreed to join Gilas for the SEA Games in part because of the national team's poor showing in China. KC Cruz/ESPN5

If parallel universes did exist, there would have probably been a world where Jayson Castro played for and won titles with Tim Cone and the Alaska Aces.

"I've never had the chance to coach him," Cone said. "I almost drafted him back in 2008 when he was drafted by Chot Reyes. Dang him, he jumped ahead of us and traded for him."

Talk 'N Text was able to keep the shifty guard away from the Aces 11 years ago by pulling the trigger on a draft day trade that sent Jay Washington to San Miguel in exchange for the No. 3 pick. Alaska ended up picking Sol Mercado from the big board instead.

Cone now finally has the chance to coach Castro, after he included him in Gilas' 15-man pool for the 30th Southeast Asian Games in December.

"Now, after all these years maybe we can do something together. I'm honored that he's here, honored that he accepted the challenge and he's a special player," Cone said.

Castro said earlier this year that he has retired from playing for the national team, but Cone thought the guard's determination to help the Philippines bounce back from a bleak FIBA World Cup run made it easier to convince Castro to get on board.

"I don't think he really need any convincing. Jayson loves playing with the national team," he said. "I think when he was approached again to come in and join us, I think he was willing to do it. He knows he can contribute, he can be a great help and he can lead this team."

"I think he felt that maybe the young guns need to come in and maybe start taking his time, taking his place. I think it was kind of a realization for him watching how much he was missed in that lineup, and that leadership. He's still Asia's best guard," Cone added.

Castro said he heeded Cone's call to have a stable and proven star presence in the backcourt.

"You all know why. The big boss called me and then said Coach Tim requested for me because he needs a veteran point guard," Castro said.

The 33-year-old appears to already be soaking up everything from Cone and said he likes his detail-oriented coaching style.

"It's really detailed and he explains every movement, which is really helpful for a player. You don't get to play under such coaches that's why I'm absorbing everything I'm learning from him," he shared.

Castro also likes Gilas' chances of coming up with an efficient build-up given the pool's wealth of talent and experience.

"Anyone can get lucky. That's what coach and [Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas] are trying to avoid. That's why even the coaches' preparations, their scouting are pretty advanced," noted Castro.

"We're all in condition and game shape, so there's no problem when it comes to conditioning. The main problem is absorbing the system, but since everyone's a veteran there'll be no problems adapting to Coach Tim's system," he added.