ART Dela Cruz said his inclusion to the 15-man pool for the 30th Southeast Asian Games has become a big boost for his career.
“Laking kumpiyansa sa akin,” Dela Cruz said. “Every practice, nakikita ko sila June Mar, sila Chris Ross, malaking bagay kasi tumataas ‘yung conference ko. Sobrang thankful din ako kay coach Tim. Kahit na anim kami doon, hindi ko inexpect na makasali ako doon. Ginagawa ko lang role ko at masaya naman.”
Dela Cruz’s confidence seemed to be on a high on Friday, scoring a season-high 16 points in Barangay Ginebra’s victory in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Dela Cruz made 14 points in the second half as he emerged as one of the key players in the Gin Kings’ 113-90 win over Columbian to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
“Daming distractions before this game,” said Dela Cruz. “Pangit practice namin before the game tapos na-late din si coach. Buti na lang, nag-overtime [‘yung first game]. Sabi niya sa amin, titignan ni coach kung paano kami mag-approach sa game na ‘to. We got the challenge.”
Dela Cruz said having his father Art on the other side as Columbian assistant coach was also a challenge for himself.
“Na-challege din ako kasi nandoon Daddy ko sa kanilang side. Kailangan ko rin magpakita sa offense pati sa defense kasi may struggles din kami sa third quarter,” said Dela Cruz.
He caught fire in the third quarter, scoring eight points before being instrumental in an 18-2 run in the fourth canto.
The Ginebra cager was glad to come out with the victory on his best game of the conference.
“Automatic kami na twice-to-beat advantage. Hinabol talagang namin. Malaking bagay itong panalong ito hindi lang sa akin, pati sa buong team,” said Dela Cruz.