RAIN or Shine is crying foul after an examination revealed that Jervy Cruz suffered a broken nose from a hit by Petron guard Alex Cabagnot late in Game Four of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal playoff on Monday night.
Cruz was about to go up for a shot inside the final 28-second mark when Cabagnot hit him with a closed fist to the face, drawing a howl of protest from Rain or Shine coaches and players.
The Elasto Painters' fury only rose when Cabagnot escaped being slapped with a flagrant foul in the play.
“Naka-closed fist talaga siya run. Kasi talagang nahilo at nasaktan ako sa foul na ginawa niya,” said the soft-spoken Guimba, Nueva Ecija native in an interview with Spin.ph on Tuesday.
Cruz was immediately taken to the hospital after the game, and an X-Ray showed the former University of Santo Tomas star had suffered a broken nose bridge on the left side which doctors said will require surgery.
However, the undersized forward said he plans to forego surgery until after Rain or Shine's campaign in the all-Filipino conference.
“Kailangan daw talaga operahan kasi nabali. Kaso nag-isip ako, kung papa-opera ako ngayon, kailangan ng two weeks na pahinga. Ayokong mawala sa kampanya ng team ko,” Cruz said.
“So after the conference na lang ako magpapa-opera, gusto ko pang tumulong sa team,” added Cruz, who is the top performing Rain or Shine player in the league's efficiency ranking this season at No. 27.
Asked if he believes it was a foul intended to hurt him, Cruz didn't hesitate to say yes.
“Syempre, kung wala siyang balak saktan ako, hard foul lang. Hindi suntok. Basag nga ilong ko oh,” he stressed. “Nahilo talaga ako. Hindi ko nga na-i-shoot yung dalawang free throws ko.”
“Tingin ko sinadya niya talaga yun, kaso hinayaan ko na lang."
Cruz said he was so angry after the play that his first impulse was to hit Cabagnot with the ball, only to be pacified by the referees and teammate Beau Belga.
“Nandilim talaga ang paningin ko nun, gusto ko ngang batuhin ng bola si Cabagnot. Kasi pwede namang hard foul lang, walang suntok,” he said.
“Pinigilan lang ako ng mga referees. Sinabihan ako nung isang referee na pabayaan mo na, lamang naman kayo. Baka magkaroon pa ng gulo o technical foul,” he said, recalling the moment when the score was pegged at 87-82 in Rain or Shine’s favor, with 26.2 seconds to go.
To be able to play in Game Five, Cruz will have to wear a protective mask to shield his nose from further injury.
“Nagpasukat na ako ng mask kanina. Nakaka-ilang daw 'yun. Pero walang magagawa, gusto ko pang lumaro at makatulong,” said the versatile 6-4 banger.
“OK naman yung ilong ko, yun nga lang madalas akong nahihilo at masakit ang ulo. May fracture eh. Kaya ganun daw,” Cruz said.