ART Dela Cruz has already learned his lesson well.
The Barangay Ginebra forward said he’s now taking his time recovering from the Achilles tendon injury that sidelined him again this 43rd PBA season.
The 25-year-old Dela Cruz has undergone another major operation to repair the tear in his tendon after re-injuring the same foot just a few days before the new season began.
He’s currently in his third month of rehabilitation, but is already attending practices and games of Ginebra.
But he’s not in a hurry to make an early return this time.
“Ayaw ng madaliin ni coach (Tim Cone) kasi natuto na,” said Dela Cruz , who was at ringside when the Kings outlasted the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in triple overtime Friday night, 100-92, in the Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Tiwala ako kasi hindi ako minamadali ni coach, hindi ako pine-pressure na bumalik kaya thankful din ako.”
Dela Cruz, the former San Beda star, first suffered the injury during the first practice of Gilas Pilipinas while preparing for the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (SEABA) Championship in Tagaytay last year.
Unlike the first, a different procedure was done on the injury this time courtesy of his new doctor George Canlas.
“Confident naman ako na 100 percent yung pagbalik ko,” he said. “Mas mabilis yung recovery ko, pero ayaw kong madaliin.”
Understandably, frustration initially set in shortly after he went down again with the injury. Dela Cruz was then getting ready to suit up for the Kings, who acquired him in a trade that involved Chris Ellis, after being inked to a fresh two-year contract by the team when disaster struck.
But now it’s all positive for the son of former PBA player Art Dela Cruz.
“Tapos na, na-overcome ko na (frustration),” he said. “Wala ka ng iisipin. Lahat puro positive na.”
Dela Cruz said he’s definitely out for the season, but hinted he could start joining the Kings in practice by the third conference.
“Depende pa kay coach kung gusto niya na akong palaruin,” he stressed.
At the moment, Dela Cruz said he’s not undertaking any major activities.
“More on therapy muna ako, more on strengthening,” he said of the process he’s currently undergoing which he said would last for three to four months.