Mark Cruz does a Jawo as he shrugs off fractured nose to lead Letran to a win
Mark Cruz is led out of the court with a bloodied nose. Jerome Ascano

MARK Cruz definitely gets a one hundred percent rating for bravery.

The Letran ace suffered a fractured nose after he hit the elbow of Lyceum’s Allyn Malabanan in the second quarter of their NCAA men’s basketball game Tuesday, but returned just in time to help the Knights eke out an 83-78 win at The Arena in San Juan.

Cruz finished with five points, grabbed three rebounds, dished out four assists and added four steals in 21 minutes of play despite having difficulty breathing.

“Limited lang ang actions ko kasi hindi ako makahinga,” said Cruz later. “(Bumalik ako) kasi gusto ko makatulong sa team.”

His heroics easily brought to mind the same gallant effort made by the great Robert Jaworski for Ginebra in the 1985 PBA Reinforced Conference in a playoff game against guest team Northern Consolidated.

The Big J was left bleeding in the mouth after an accidental elbow from naturalized player Jeff Moore, leaving him with a huge cut that required nine stitches to close.

Following a brief stay in the hospital, the Ginebra playing-coach went back to the game and inspired the team to a classic 99-96 win.

Cruz, a fourth year guard, said he felt severe pain after taking a hit in the nose.

“Masakit talaga, feeling ko tumabingi,” said Cruz.   

The diminutive guard is set to see a doctor on Wednesday.

Cruz’s heroics didn’t go for naught as the Knights kept their unblemished record, extending their  winning run to seven and matched their best start in the last two years.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos