BARANGAY Ginebra is looking to give comebacking Art dela Cruz a few minutes of playing time when the Kings go up against the Meralco Bolts in their PBA Governors Cup face-off on Sunday in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Coach Tim Cone disclosed plans of finally letting the 26-year-old forward suit up in his debut for the defending champions after coming off two surgeries to repair an Achilles tendon tear.
Dela Cruz was put by the team on the active roster list prior to the game against NLEX last Friday. He did show up in a Ginebra uniform, joined the Kings during warm-ups, but wasn’t fielded in by Cone in the 106-92 win.
Against Meralco, Cone said Dela Cruz will see action but for limited minutes only.
“On Sunday, he’ll get a few minutes that would take anymore than six to eight minutes. And then we’ll continue to build and build from there,” said the Ginebra mentor.
Cone added he just wanted to give Dela Cruz a feel of how it likes to be back on the bench and wearing his Ginebra jersey.
“We just want him to get his feet wet. We want to be very, very careful with him because he’s coming two surgeries on the same foot,” said the 60-year-old Cone. “So we’re gonna treat him with kids’ gloves as we go forward.”
Cone isn’t expecting anything big yet for Dela Cruz, who the Kings acquired in a trade with Blackwater that involved Chris Ellis. The former San Beda star was then recuperating from his first surgery when the deal with the Elite was consummated.
At the most, the champion coach is looking to have a breakout season from Dela Cruz by next season.
“In my mind, Art is really somebody we’ll be using this conference to prepare for next conference. We’re not looking for his impact this conference. If he does, it’s a bonus.
“But really, we’re just trying to prepare him for the next conference.”