JERVY Cruz benefited from the swarming defense on LA Tenorio, stepping up for the Gin Kings in their 93-86 win over Star in Game Four of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Wednesday night.
The reserve big man took advantage of only his second start this conference as he finished with a game-high 21 points – just two shy of his career high – on top of six boards, three assists, one steal, and one block, without committing a single turnover in almost 27 minutes of play.
Cruz said he tried his best to set up picks for Tenorio, who would naturally return the favor to his rolling or popping teammates considering the attention he’s been getting from the defense.
“Sabi ni coach, hanapin lagi si LA kasi kayo rin ang mao-open once na nagbigay kayo ng pick kay LA. 'Yung tao niyo, maghe-help, so kayo din mao-open,” Cruz said. “So hanapin si LA, at si Japeth, ganoon din.”
Cruz capped his outstanding performance with a three-point play in the waning seconds – a short stab off a Japeth Aguilar drop pass and a free throw to complete the and-1 play.
“Mentality ko lang talaga na maging aggressive sa loob ng court,” the former University of Santo Tomas star said. “Every time na ipasok ako ni coach, gusto ko mag-contribute, kahit kaunting minutes lang. So yun, talagang gusto ko lang manalo.”
Cruz hopes to keep doing his thing for the Gin Kings to sustain their momentum and finally take the lead in the series in Game Five on Friday.
“Siguro ayun lang, aggressive lang lagi,” Cruz said. “Ganoon pa rin, wala ring magbabago. Basta aggressive lang kami, tapos pag may time na makakuha ng rebound, rebound at tulong.”