ROOKIE Jericho Cruz is making the most out of the playing opportunity being given him by coach Yeng Guiao.
With guard Chris Tiu still recovering from a hamstring injury, Cruz was given extended minutes and readily scored a career-high 12 points in Rain or Shine’s 117-88 rout of expansion team Kia Motors in the PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I’m so blessed na binibigyan ako ni coach ng ganung playing minutes kasi for a rookie, alam naman natin na nagbibigay naman siya ng playing time, pero di ko lang ine-expect na 18 minutes per game,” said Cruz after the game.
The former Adamson star, selected ninth overall by the team in the last Rookie Draft, said his effort on the court was his way of repaying the trust given to him by Guiao.
“Iyung mga minutes na yun, sinusuklian ko naman ng maganda si coach kaya nakaka- contribute naman ako, hindi lang sa scoring, kundi sa depensa din, like pag stop ng scorers sa kabila,” added Cruz, who turns 24 next month.
The 6-foot Rain or Shine rookie is thankful veteran guards Jireh Ibanez and Paul Lee are there to support and guide him right in his maiden season as a pro.
“Sinasabihan nila (veteran teammates) ako palagi na trabaho ka lang saka yung hustle mo ilabas mo lang every game kasi may pupuntahan iyan, kasi sila kuya Jireh, sila kuya Paul, madaming binbigay na advice sa akin,” shared Cruz.