JERICHO Cruz said it will take a few more games before he gets back into top shape.
Cruz scored six points and issued eight assists in his first game for NLEX since being acquired in a trade from TNT, but he couldn't save the Road Warriors from dropping a 98-88 loss to Magnolia on Friday.
Cruz, inactive for months after being relegated to a reserve by TNT de facto coach Mark Dickel, said conditioning - or lack of it - was his main problem.
“Happy naman ako pero ‘yung first two minutes ko sa court, hindi ko alam kung saan ako kukuha ng hinga,” Cruz admitted. “Talagang pagod na pagoda ako. Up and down four times, nag-ask pa nga ako ng sub kay coach.”
“Pero nung halftime na, medyo back to normal na ako pero nag hirap pa rin. Almost three months ka out tapos kababalik mo lang, three practices with NLEX. Nakaka-adjust naman ako. Siguro two or three games, I’ll be back in my shape,” said Cruz.
The 28-year-old Cruz said all he wanted was fill holes in the offense of NLEX, and that was exactly what he did when he dished out eight assists in the game.
“Fini-fill in ko lang ‘yung wala sa amin. Wala masyadong playmaker. I have to step in and try to create for my teammates. Kaso nung huli, hindi kami nakaka-shoot. Pero happy with the results na wala silang takot na tumira,” he added.
Cruz said he is determined to repay the faith of NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, his first PBA coach with Rain or Shine where he played for four years.
“It’s good to be back playing under coach Yeng. First game ko, parang 26 minutes ko. ‘Yung tiwala niya, nandoon pa rin. Nasa akin na ‘yun. I have to give back ‘yung tiwala niya. Kailangan kong ibalik,” said Cruz.