EVEN with a heavy heart, Jervy Cruz left Rain or Shine with one last request to coach Yeng Guiao.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, wag ninyo naman akong tirahin pag kalaban namin kayo. Sabi niya (Guiao), 'Kaunti lang, titirahin ka ng mga yan pero kaunti lang,'” recalled Cruz in between laughs while pointing at former teammate Raymond Almazan as his possible hitman.
On Sunday, Cruz finally ended his six-year stay with the team that picked him fourth overall in the 2009 PBA Rookie Draft when he was dealt by the franchise to Globalport in a trade for Jewel Ponferrada and a future second-round draft pick.
Turning serious, Cruz admitted he was leaving Rain or Shine with a heavy heart, saying he considered his teammates and officials as family during his stay with the team.
“Naiiyak ako kasi six years ako rito. Iba ang samahan namin, especially mga teammates ko. Nakakamiss, nakakapanibago rin,” he said.
The soft-spoken pride of Guimba, Nueva Ecija pride said he considers playing for Rain or Shine under Guiao the best moment of his career so far.
But Guiao consoled him during a three-minute talk prior to the Elasto Painters’ first practice of the offseason by saying the trade was for the best of both parties, but more so for Cruz who is reunited with his college coach at University of Santo Tomas, Pido Jarencio.
“Mapapaganda ka run, kasi kilala mo na ang coach mo. Mas magagamit ka run kasi dito sa atin, sumisikip na ang rotation mo,” Guiao told Cruz in their heart to heart talk.
Cruz responded: “Sabi ko, marami po akong natutunan. Yung maging pisikal sa game, ang maging matapang. Saka tungkol sa buhay buhay, marami akong natutunan sa kanya.”
They Said It!
“You can still shine on your new team idol Jervy. Bring back the roar, former king TIGER!" - SaiRus Agustus Catubig ZeRna
The former Tigers star also comforted himself with the thought that players who played under Guiao went on to have great careers with other team, among them Kerby Raymundo, Cyrus Baguio, Junthy Valenzuela, Lordy Tugade, and Willie Miller.
“Ang dami kong natutunan sa kanya. Nasa sa iyo na lang 'yun kung paano ka mag-i-improve. Ang balak ko eh mas mag-improve pa ng mag-improve sa mga natutunan ko sa kanya,” he said.
Guiao, meanwhile, also took time to explain to Cruz the reason why the Elasto Painter had to give him up.
“It's always a sad occasion when you have to trade players, but he is going to a good place with his former college coach, with whom he was very successful. He's going to an upcoming team, lumalakas at gumaganda ang future ng Globalport,” said Guiao.
“Mas maaring mas maging malaki ang papel niya run, na pwede niyang itulong sa team na 'yun. We've been together for four years, no regrets, and I am very happy and very privileged to have coached him,” he said of the former UAAP MVP.
“Sabi nya ang dami nyang matutunan. Sana magamit niya yung mga natutunan nyang yun sa ibang teams.”
View VIDEO of Jervy Cruz bidding the team goodbye:
Asked about Cruz's request, a smiling Guiao said it's all part of the game.
“Kasama sa laro yun eh,” he chuckled.
Guiao disclosed Cruz has been pursued by Globalport, something which he only paid attention to recently.
“Hindi kami ang nag-initiate nun (trade). It was an offer. Alam ko naman si coach Pido eh dating coach ni Jervy. And I also know na dito sa team, third or fourth rotation na siya,” he said.
“Lalo pag may import, baka fourth (option) na siya. So naisip ko rin na in the future, baka yung opportunities (for him) mas malaki sa kabila,” said Guiao while at the same time expressing optimism that Ponferrada's arrival at Rain or Shine will provide additional ceiling to his team.
They Said It!
“Yeng maybe a villain in the sidelines during games, but he treats his players like his own sons and that's good. Respect to him!" - Henry Jay Atienza
Meanwhile, Globalport, according to sources, might not be the last stop for Cruz, who won a UAAP championship with Jarencio during the 2006 season. Barangay Ginebra is on the lookout for a big man with a sweet touch from the perimeter for Tim Cone's triangle offense - and Cruz fits the bill.
Spin.ph had previously reported that GlobalPort had eyed Ginebra big man Dorian Pena - and not Cruz - in a trade for the hard-banging Ponferrada.
It is not clear, however, if GlobalPort will utilize Cruz first for a few conferences or immediately ship him to Ginebra.