FORMER Far Eastern University standout Carl Bryan Cruz beamed with pride upon seeing the influx of former Tamaraws in the Gilas Pilipinas program, which he considers a major step in enhancing the image of the school's basketball program that was once tainted several years ago.
Cruz said he is happy to see Gilas cadet Mac Belo, who already saw action in the Southeast Asian Games team coached by Tab Baldwin, joined by FEU teammates Roger Pogoy and Russel Escoto in the Gilas Pilipinas training pool ahead of the 2016 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila this July.
“Sobrang proud ako sa kanila kasi kasama ko sila dati, ngayon nasa Gilas na sila. Mataas ang chance nila na makapasok sa national team,” said Cruz.
Cruz said the Gilas stint of Belo, Pogoy, and Escoto along with the Tamaraws' championship run in UAAP Season 78 will only boost the image of the FEU athletic program tarnished several years ago by game-fixing allegations.
The FEU revamp actually began in Season 76 as Nash Racela joined the Tamaraws as head coach, turning the school into a championship contender. Following its defeat against National University in 2014, FEU bounced back by winning the best-of-three finals series against University of Santo Tomas last year.
“Maganda ang maibibigay nilang image sa FEU,” said Cruz, referring to Belo, Pogoy, and Escoto. “Graduate ako doon. Gumaganda na rin ‘yung image ng school namin.”
Belo, Pogoy, and Escoto could also bolster this year’s PBA draft class, and Cruz also hopes to join them in being part of the growing number of FEU players strutting their wares in the PBA.
“Dapat magpapa-draft na ako last year tapos bigla akong nagkaroon ng ACL injury. Hindi na ako aabot sa draft. Ang plano ko, magpa-draft pero hindi ko muna pine-pressure sarili ko. Kung maganda kalabasan ng first at second conference ko, mas maganda rin ang chance ko sa draft,” Cruz said.