Tough break but Rain or Shine  rookie Jericho Cruz confident he can overcome injury hurdle
Rain or Shine rookie Jericho Cruz says he was surprised that the injury was far worse than he thought. Jerome Ascano

RAIN or Shine rookie Jericho Cruz is confident Rain or Shine can go all the way in the PBA Philippine Cup but rued not being able to join the ride.

Rain or Shine actually closed the eliminations with a 100-90 victory over Barangay Ginebra to extend its win streak to seven and secure a guaranteed place in semifinals, but the joy was tempered by news that its top rookie had suffered a broken foot.

Cruz said he was surprised to learn that the injury was far worse than he thought.

“I was driving at the baseline nung humarang si (Ginebra center) Jay-R Reyes, eh paiwas ako. Siguro di ko alam, pero baka natapakan ko siya, then I felt something pop, kaya yun na,” Cruz said of the first major injury of his basketball career.

"I was able to run back and forth pa pero after nagpa-sub na ako kay coach kasi di ko na kaya," he added.

The six-foot guard freshman guard out of Adamson went under the knife five days ago.

“Siyempre, I felt bad (with the foot injury) because I can’t help my team anymore, but to just cheer for them (in the playoffs). Eh I also want to help coach Yeng (Guiao) win his first all-Filipino championship, pero wala naman akong magagawa,” he added.

The 24-year-old guard, who teammate Beau Belga considered a 'steal' at No. 9 overall in the last draft, said he’s doing well since surgery and is able to walk slowly with his foot protected by a walking boot.

Guiao’s decision to trade No. 2 overall pick Kevin Alas before the start of the season has opened the way for Cruz, who has shone in the times the veteran coach called his number.

In 11 elimination games, the cat-quick Cruz averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in more than 17 minutes of action while playing in a guard-heavy rotation of Rain or Shine.

Now he can't wait to get better.

“It’s my first injury na nag-undergo ako ng surgery, pero sabi nga nila, malayo iyan sa bituka, so for me, that’s just minor. I know I’ll get better. Basta, I’ll just do what the doctor says para gumaling agad ako,” said Cruz.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava