JERVY Cruz knew he had big shoes to fill in as Justin Brownlee’s replacement whenever the Ginebra import is recalled to the bench for some needed rest.
And so given just a few minutes to come in during the Kings’ game against the Star Hotshots Sunday night, the undersized power forward was quick to pounce on the opportunity.
Cruz cut loose for eight straight points in a scoring binge that gave Kings the leeway to finally pull away en route to a 116-103 comeback win in the PBA Governors Cup before a roaring crowd of 16,640 at the Big Dome.
The seven-year veteran actually hit all of the Kings’ points in an 8-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters that allowed the team to peel off from a 76-all game.
He started the scoring by beating the third quarter buzzer to give the Kings a 78-76 lead heading to the final 12 minutes of a match in which the league’s crowd darling trailed by as many as 17 (49-32) in the second period.
“Sabi ko nga sa mga coaches kahit konting minutes lang basta ibibigay ko ang lahat,” said the big man out of University of Santo Tomas.
“Import pa yung kapuwestuhan ko, kaya kahit ilang minutes lang ibigay sa akin ni coach, ready ako lagi.”
Cruz was indeed, up to the task.
He opened the final period with six straight points to give the Kings an 84-76 lead and the needed momentum to take control of the match.
“Sobrang saya, Star pa ang kalaban namin,” said Cruz, who played for just five minutes but was 4-of-5 from the field.
Browlee returned shortly after and finished off what Cruz started, conniving with Sol Mercado in a 15-8 run that towed the Kings to a 99-84 lead midway through the pivotal fourth.
By that time, Cruz was already enjoying the view from the bench.