RAIN or Shine coach Caloy Garcia renewed his confidence in Jericho Cruz, one of the young guns expected to lead the Elasto Painters, as they open their PBA Governors’ Cup campaign on Friday night against GlobalPort at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
There are rumors that a handful of teams have been inquiring about the 26-year-old Cruz, but expect the rising star guard to stay put in the near future as he tries to be among the E-Painters’ leaders in this season-ending conference.
As far as he is concerned, Garcia hasn’t heard any formal trade offers for Cruz, saying teams could be talking directly to ROS management if there are any offers.
But if he had his way, Garcia won’t give up his prized ward.
“Hindi ko ibibigay (si Jericho),” Garcia said in a chat with SPIN.ph after a recent practice. “Jericho’s young. I don’t think na it’s fair to trade Jericho sa tipong – hindi naman sinasabing matanda na, we know that they’re quality players, but in a team like us, we need young blood also, so I’ll stick with Jericho.”
Cruz also renewed his trust in Garcia and the rest of the coaching staff that has implemented the Dribble-Drive offense starting this conference.
“Got to give a shoutout sa coaching staff naming for doin a great job sa practice namin, trying their best to get us in shape,” Cruz said. “We have a new system. Medyo nakabisado din naming, so hopefully positive ‘to sa amin pagdating ng games.”
“Hopefully pumasok din kami ng semis ngayon, kasi nami-miss din namin pumasok ng semis eh,” he added after his team put up a recent string of underachieving performances. “Feeling ko kaya naman kasi everyone’s healthy naman. I think it’s going to be a good conference for us. Feel ko lang.”
Apart from their young locals, the E-Painters are also fielding a young import in 24-year-old J.D. Weatherspoon, who compared his athleticism to that of a young Vince Carter.
The E-Painters take the court at 7 p.m. against a Batang Pier that’s also banking on a young backcourt tandem in Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle and a 25-year-old reinforcement in Jabril Trawick.
Meralco, the losing finalist in the last edition of the season-ending conference, is turning to familiarity as it parades returning import Allen Durham starting in their conference opener against Blackwater, bannered by Trevis Simpson, in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m.