Tim Cone: Losing Jayson Castro to injury 'a huge blow' to Gilas

Tim Cone said TNT guard Jayson Castro might have to "step away" entirely from Gilas Pilipinas' buildup for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games following a right calf strain he sustained Friday.

Castro was diagnosed with a soleus muscle strain after exiting in the first quarter of the KaTropa's game against the NLEX Road Warriors. He is expected to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks, which potentially puts him out of commission for the national team.

"Obviously losing a guy like Jayson is a huge, huge blow. But he was one of the guys I was really looking forward to coaching and relying on. Tough news," Cone rued. "It's a huge blow for us. Huge. He's so respected amongst the 15 guys there."

"I don't see him being able to get ready in time to come and play," Cone continued. "I don't see how he can. If he makes the minimum time, which means he'll come back November 26, 27. That would be three days before the tournament starts. And that's if he's healthy. He [still] has to get in shape, he has to play. If he's five weeks, he's out. Six weeks, we're already done. It's basically a 4-6 week injury."

Cone, though, isn't ruling out Castro entirely and said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has yet to make a decision on whether or not they will add to the Gilas pool.

"We haven't made that decision yet," Cone explained. "[W]e'll talk to Dr. (Raul) Canlas and hear what he has to say as well before we make a final ruling on whether we need to look for somebody else or consider playing without him."

In the meantime, Gilas will be extending the length of its practices as it braces to kick its preparations into high gear in the coming weeks.

"We're gonna start practicing a little longer now. We've done basically an hour, an hour and 10, an hour and 15, we're gonna try to stretch it to an hour and 30, an hour and 45 in the next couple of practices to get a little more done," he said.