RAIN or Shine rookie Jericho Cruz is raring to make up for lost time in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs after sitting out the latter part of the Philippine Cup due to a broken left foot.
Showing he has fully recovered from the first major injury of his career, the six-foot Cruz provided quality minutes for Rain or Shine in Game One against Meralco, scoring nine points, grabbing two rebounds and, more importantly, helping put the clamps on Gary David in the fourth period.
The result was a 99-86 victory that got Rain or Shine off to a flying start in the best-of-five semifinal series.
“Medyo excited at the same time, may halong kaba kasi na-injured ako nung last conference nung magse-semis kami,” said Cruz, who was selected ninth overall by the Elasto Painters in last year’s PBA Rookie Draft.
Since undergoing surgery and therapy, Cruz said he never felt this good and is motivated to prove that he can really play against the best of the best in the PBA.
“This time, sa pagbalik ko, I really worked hard para ano man mangyari sa semis, always ready lang ako if coach (Yeng Guiao) calls me up to play,” he said.
In the series-opening game, Cruz showed the quickness he was known for since his UAAP days with the Adamson Falcons by shadowing David, a two-time PBA scoring champion who he held to two points in the final quarter.
“Gary is Gary. He’s one of the best offensive players here pero para sa akin, I’m just doing what coach tells me to do, stick to him, not give him many touches during the game,” said Cruz after only his fourth game in the mid-season conference.
Rain or Shine takes a break on Wednesday, before resuming practice on Thursday for Game Two scheduled on Sunday.