CARL Bryan Cruz shone the brightest for Gilas Pilipinas in a 105-101 win over Blackwater in their second tune-up match in preparation for the William Jones Cup on Friday at the Meralco Gym.
Unlike in their 113-112 win over NLEX, Gilas didn't need to come back from a 25-point deficit, but had to endure some scary moments nonetheless.
The Elite momentarily took the lead, 89-88, midway through the fourth quarter, but Cruz scored 10 points from that point forward as the national team regained control.
The Alaska forward nailed two threes and had a couple of free throws to give the national team a 100-95 lead with 1:35 to go.
RR Pogoy then put the game away with a three-pointer for a 105-98 lead with 1:01 left.
"I thought we played better defense today. Our offense looked a whole lot better than the last one," said head coach Chot Reyes.
"Our spacing was better, our timing was better, especially the execution. But we could have played a lot better pa," he added.
Cruz led the national team with 22 points, making five of his 10 threes of the game. Christian Standhardinger added 13, while import Mike Myers added 12 in limited minutes.
The tune-up game, however, could prove costly as Jio Jalalon sprained his ankle midway through the third quarter.
Trevis Simpson led Blackwater with 23.