ART Dela Cruz is determined to repay the trust of Barangay Ginebra, especially coach Tim Cone, after sitting out for nearly two years due to an Achilles heel injury.
Dela Cruz said he is glad to be back helping Barangay Ginebra's title run in the PBA Philippine Cup after overcoming an Achilles injury not just one but twice in his young career.
The former San Beda standout scored 14 points as Ginebra posted an 86-75 win over Magnolia to take a 1-0 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal best-of-three series.
“Sobrang happy. ‘Yung mga injuries ko before, na-surpass ko na,” the 26-year-old said.
Dela Cruz said he is taking it upon himself to do his best for Ginebra with the team having to wait for him for almost two years to get healthy.
It isn't easy to get to Ginebra, the son of the former San Miguel forward said. It's harder to hold on to a spot after a long injury layoff, he added.
“Hindi naman sa nagyayabang pero mahirap kumuha ng playing time dito eh. Sa players pa lang, kailangan mong magtiyaga every practice. Mahirap kumuha ng tiwala. Sobrang thankful ako na nandito ako sa spot na ‘to at sa dami ng players na gustong mapunta dito,” said Dela Cruz.
“Nag-tiis siya. Ilang taon ako nakaupo. One year and eight months na pinagtiyagaan ako na injured. Pero eto ngayon, nagbubunga na ‘yung paghihintay nila, hindi lang ni coach, pati mga players at especially the fans at management.
"Sana magtuluy-tuloy dahil mahirap ‘yung pinagdaanan ko as a person and as a player. Walang makakapaghintay ng ganun. Buti na lang, bata pa ako as a PBA player. Meron pang life span ‘yung basketball career ko,” said Dela Cruz.
Dela Cruz is now hoping for the best in the Kings’ campaign in their bid for an all-Filipino title that has eluded them for several years now.
“Tuluy-tuloy lang ‘yung laro namin at sana umabot kami sa finals. Eto ‘yung goal namin. Si coach Tim, laging sinasabi hindi kami makaabot sa championship sa All-Filipino,” said Dela Cruz.