NLEX acting coach Jojo Lastimosa believes Jericho Cruz will be making an immediate impact with the Road Warriors following his arrival from TNT via trade on Monday.
Lastimosa said Cruz will be playing a big role to the team especially with the Road Warriors in a 0-5 slide to start the Commissioner’s Cup.
“It took a while but we are glad he is finally here,” said Lastimosa on Tuesday after the team’s practice which Cruz attended for the first time. “Right now, we need all the help we can get and Jericho is going to supply that.”
Lastimosa, who has been supervising the team’s practices with head coach Yeng Guiao still on his way back home from a European vacation, said Cruz will not only be giving the much-needed scoring the team sorely needs.
“His scoring and his playmaking and I think there is some kind of leadership quality in him,” Lastimosa said. “He is kind of a person that is not afraid to speak out and he will give that [to the team].
“We need vocal leaders in the team. We had that one when Kiefer [Ravena] was here. But he is not here. We are looking for guys who can step up and Jericho is a welcome sight,” Lastimosa said.
Although he has been keeping himself in shape by playing pick-up games and doing some boxing, Cruz admitted he is still far from game shape.
Lastimosa though is confident Cruz will be able to get to be in fighting form in time for Friday’s game against Magnolia. He expects the former Adamson standout to play long minutes in his NLEX debut.
“It’s just an excuse for players in case they played bad. But truthfully, it’s not hard for the player to get back in shape especially a player like him. Madali lang bumalik sa kundisyon ang mga ‘yan. Give him a few days and he will be okay. For me, I’m not worried,” said Lastimosa.
“I think he can play substantial minutes. I’m talking about 25, 30 minutes max. Maybe if we have a chance to win the game, he will be in the game. Seeing him now for the first time up close and he hasn’t played for two months, he looks really good,” said Lastimosa.