BOCAUE – Jervy Cruz emerged as the next man up for a Barangay Ginebra team that’s missing a handful of key players, showing what he can do when given the minutes like he had in the team’s 89-78 win over Magnolia in their PBA Philippine Cup matchup on Christmas day.
Without three injured players in utility men Joe Devance and Art dela Cruz along with playmaker Sol Mercado, Cruz filled the void as he registered 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, against two turnovers in 19 minutes off the bench.
“Ako naman, ready lang ako,” the 31-year-old Cruz said following the game at the Philippine Arena. "Injured si Joe, injured si Sol, basta may chance ako maglaro, ibibigay ko ang lahat para makatulong sa team. Yun naman ang mentality ko.”
The 6-foot-4 Cruz backed up big men Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, forming a potent high-low combination with the Gin Kings’ twin towers whenever they got the attention from the Hotshots’ defense down low.
“Sinasabi ko lang, pag naka-seal sila, ibibigay ko sa kanila. Bonus na lang pag na-open ako sa gitna kasi nakatingin ang depensa sa kanila,” said the former UAAP MVP out of University of Santo Tomas.
Averaging just 7.7 minutes in the eliminations of the last Governors’ Cup, Cruz is expected to get more playing time in this all-Filipino conference even when the Gin Kings are healthy as they are without resident import Justin Brownlee who anchored their repeat conquest of the season-ending conference.
“Galing kami sa champion, pero sinasabi ni coach Tim, di pwedeng nandyan lang si Justin,” Cruz said. “Dapat mag-step up din kami. Nakakahiya sa maraming tao na Christmas Day matalo kami kaya binigay namin ang lahat.”
“Talagang pinu-push namin ang isa’t isa ngayong all-Filipino kasi gusto naming ‘di lang may import mag-champion,” he added. “Gusto rin naming ipakita na kaya namin kahit walang import.”