Tanduay activates former PBA player Lester Alvarez to lessen load on guard Mark Cruz
Mark Cruz is set to have a quality backcourt tandem with fellow former PBA cager Lester Alvarez when Tanduay battles AMA in the quarterfinals. Dante Peralta

MARK Cruz has long proven to be Tanduay's go-to guy in the ongoing PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup. 

In fact, the pint-sized guard poured in 12 of his 20 points in the final stretch to lift the Rhum Masters to a thrilling 73-69 win over Jose Rizal University and clinch a twice-to-beat edge in the quarterfinals.

[See Mark Cruz comes up clutch as Tanduay nips JRU to clinch twice-to-beat- edge]

But Tanduay coach Lawrence Chongson is making his sure his top playmaker won’t get burned out in the playoffs, tapping the services of former Adamson standout and PBA pro Lester Alvarez.

"Maybe it's also a good thing that I don't have other playmakers and his minutes are getting extended," said Chongson, whose team got quality minutes from Andretti Stevens on Tuesday but still saw the need for a quality backup guard.

Alvarez, 28, was a second-round pick in the PBA who played a couple of games with Barako and Star. He last saw action in the Thailand league, returning just last Monday to sign with Tanduay.

"Lester Alvarez will be activated for next game. Para hindi naman masyado masunog si Mark Cruz," said Chongson, who bared he has been in touch with Alvarez during his Thailand stint.

The former Adamson playmaker will form a deadly backcourt with Cruz in time for Tanduay's quarterfinal match against the Jeron Teng-led AMA on Thursday.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros