JERVY Cruz is one player who cannot remain in the shadows for long.
Proof of that is the rock-solid game Cruz recently dished out in leading Rain or Shine to a win over Globalport while earning Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the period covering October 15 to 21.
The 6-foot-3 power forward showed heart can make up for lack of size with career highs of 22 points and 16 rebounds, leading the Elasto Painters to a 94-83 victory over the Batang Pier last Saturday that gave them a firmer grip of second spot in the Philippine Cup.
No one is happier for Cruz than Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, privy to the extra hours spent by the former University of Santo Tomas standout and UAAP MVP to further hone his game.
"Jervy is one player who has been very consistent for us and it should not be surprising," said Guiao of the man tabbed at No. 4 overall during the 2009 Rookie Draft.
"Whatever na mga pagkukulang niya he more than makes up for with hard work and perseverance. Kaya nga more often than not he rises to the challenge when called upon and that makes him a special player."
The extra hours at the practice facility have truly reaped dividends for the 26-year-old.
Against GlobalPort, Cruz made eight of 14 field goal attempts and snared eight of his boards off the offensive end to stoke the E-Painters' charge against a Batang Pier crew that is on an upset mode after pulling the rug from under Meralco just three days before.
Cruz's latest feat not only helped Rain or Shine improve to a 3-1 win-loss slate but also jacked his own conference numbers to 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds while shooting 22-for-40 from the field.
His points are just behind team leader Jeff Chan's 23.2 while his rebounds currently pace the team. Not bad at all for a man who averages just 28.2 minutes a game.
Guiao said Cruz is bound to sustain his breakout season, with his work ethic as main consideration.
"Huwag lang magbabago ang attitude niya at siguradong tuloy-tuloy ang improvement niya," said Guiao. "When he does that, I know he can only get better."
In copping his first citation from the scribes, Cruz beat out the likes of Talk 'N Text's Kelly Williams, Barako Bull's Sean Anthony and Alaska's Calvin Abueva.