Most Improved Player Jericho Cruz says he's come to accept departure of mentor Guiao
Most Improved Player Jericho Cruz says he owed the big leap in his game to former coach Yeng Guiao. Jaime Campos

JERICHO Cruz has undeniably thrived in his first two years in the PBA playing for Rain or Shine under coach Yeng Guiao, and was even instrumental in the team's 2016 Commissioner's Cup conquest over Alaska Aces.

Cruz’s rise didn’t go unnoticed as he earned the Most Improved Player award on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, and he immediately gave credit to his former mentor.

"Without coach Yeng, I wouldnt be here right now. Binigyan nya ako ng playing time, binigyan nya ako ng tiwala na pag nasa loob ako, may magandang mangyayari," the spitfire guard said of the veteran tactician, who will coach NLEX when the new season unfurls in November. 

"He just told us that every time we go in, we give everything we got kasi marami namang papalit eh. Marami kaming players and yun ang ginawa ko. Every time I go in, I give my best shot. Nagpapakamatay ako sa bola and maganda ang nangyayari," Cruz added.

[See 'General' Guiao the missing piece for NLEX, says Asi Taulava]

While Guiao's departure was definitely a big loss for them, Cruz said he knows new head tactician Caloy Garcia, RoS longtime assistant coach, is capable of keeping the team together for another title run.

"Coach Yeng is coach Yeng. He's going to be a big loss but at the end of the day, tanggapin natin yung nangyari," said Cruz, who also finds a new teammate in James Yap after Rain or Shine sent Paul Lee to the Star Hotshots. 

"We'll be okay kasi alam naman ni coach Caloy yung sistema ni coach Yeng eh. Lahat naman ng ginagawa ni coach Yeng, coach Caloy is there to solve it up. Coach Caloy is a good coach and I can't wait to play for him, too," he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros