TNT recruit Jericho Cruz fired up by words of encouragement from James Yap
Jericho Cruz came out firing in his TNT debut thanks to some inspiring words from James Yap and his former ROS teammates. Jerome Ascano

AS he settles in his present, Jericho Cruz got a boost from his recent past that can also help his future.

The new TNT KaTropa recruit bared he got a message from former Rain or Shine teammate James Yap before his first game for the Texters on Wednesday, resulting in a solid debut in their 101-75 all-important win over NLEX in their PBA Philippine Cup matchup.

Cruz wasted little time in making his presence felt, firing eight of his 17 points in the first quarter to spark the blowout victory.

“I got a text from James na wag kang gigil, just be yourself and play, just relax and enjoy the game,” the former ROS standout said. “I put in the game kanina and good results naman.”

“I’m thankful for that,” he added. “As a veteran like James, tinetext pa rin niya ako ng ganun. (Kahit sa ibang ROS teammates) may sarili naman kaming group eh. Ginood luck nila ako tapos sinabi ko din sa kanila na good luck din kasi may game din sila eh.”

Cruz, who completed an all-around effort with four assists, three boards, and two steals, also benefited from the trust that TNT coach Nash Racela has immediately given him after inserting him in the starting lineup right in his first game.

“Yung tiwala ni coach Nash sa akin sobrang taas kaya gusto ko lang suklian,” Cruz said. “He stressed in me na mag-point guard sa loob and I took it as a challenge na yun, yun nga just happy na we came out winning, panalo kami ngayon.”

“Alam naman natin na yung Gilas boys, busy the whole week, syempre pagod din sila eh, so for us, we’re ready to step up kahit anong mangyari,” he added after Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, and Roger Pogoy were also playing their first game after going on national duty.


Cruz admitted he still has plenty to improve on fit in better to the TNT system after committing five turnovers in 30 minutes.

“Medyo nangangapa pa rin ako sa sistema ni coach Nash, yun nga medyo nung endgame pinasok pa niya ako para makipag-vibes ako sa game pero eventually makukuha ko rin yun,” the former Adamson star said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos