Jericho Cruz insists no intention to hurt Jaypee Mendoza in rebound battle
Rain or Shine guard Jericho Cruz reaches out to Jaypee Mendoza as the Alaska player is taken out of the court in a stretcher. Jaime Campos

JERICHO Cruz insisted there was no intention to hurt Jaypee Mendoza after their rebound battle late in the Alaska-Rain or Shine matchup in the last game of the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations on Wednesday night.

After seeing Mendoza win their battle for the board with less than 30 seconds left, the Elasto Painters rising star tried to get the leather back but ended up tripping the Aces wingman in a scary fall that hurt his neck and seemingly hitting him with a knee after, leaving everyone stunned.  

“’Di ko naman sadya. I was going for the ball,” Cruz said. “Lahat tayo gusto manalo.  I didn’t mean to hurt him. I feel so bad for him.”

[See Mendoza cleared of any major injuries after scary fall]

“I’m hoping na okay na siya and he’ll play the next game,” he added. “I’m wishing him a speedy recovery.”

Mendoza and the Aces’ staff allayed fears of him suffering a major injury.

Cruz, who finished with 12 points, six boards, four assists, and one steal in 32 minutes as a starter, apologized to Mendoza and to the Aces coaches as well.

“I talked to coach Compton and coach Topex and some of the players,” Cruz said. “Di ko naman sinadya. I was going for the ball and he’s right there.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos