ANTIPOLO CITY – Jericho Cruz believes NLEX’s huge comeback wins over Barangay Ginebra in Dubai and against Magnolia on Sunday night bring a huge boost in confidence heading to the PBA Governors Cup playoffs.
“It’s a big boost for us and kahit papaano, 'yung experience madadala namin sa playoffs,” he said. “Dati kasi nung wala pa si Kiefer (Ravena), pagdating ng endgame nawawala kami, natatalo kami.”
That wasn't the case against the Kings and the defending champion Hotshots, which came crumbling down in the endgame, 86-85, when the Road Warriors came roaring back from as much as a 26-point deficit.
The dramatic victory over the Hotshots wouldn’t have been possible without Cruz, whose putback with a second left capped another mighty NLEX rally, reminiscent of the game-winning three he hit against Barangay Ginebra in Dubai last month.
“We didn’t want to give up and played out hearts out,” said Cruz of those big victories over two teams considered as top title contenders this conference.
Cruz, acquired in midseason from TnT Katropa, finished with 13 points and five rebounds, the last of which he made at the expense of Magnolia big men Romeo Travis and Rafi Reavis for the winning basket after Ravena missed the second of his two free throws.
“Iniisip ko kung mag-miss si Kiefer, one hundred percent na papasok ako para sa rebound. Luckily pumunta sa side ko, ayun naka-tsamba,” said a smiling Cruz.