ADAMSON gunner Jericho Cruz torched University of the Philippines for 19 points in leading the Falcons to a rousing 79-67 win Sunday during their UAAP Season 76 debut at the Mall of Asia Arena.
And to think Cruz was dead-tired and skipped several of his team’s practices to attend rehearsals for the league’s opening ceremony prepared by host Adamson.
Coach Leo Austria admitted being concerned with how ready Cruz was for the game against the Fighting Maroons especially after taking part during the colorful Hunger Games-inspired opening rites performed by the host school.
Rodney Brondial and Roider Cabrera also failed to take part in the team practice a day before the opener as they likewise participated in the athletes’ parade.
“I was worried with this game because most of my players especially Jericho, was not able to practice well because they were preparing for the opening (ceremony). There were a lot of rehearsals. Three of them, Roider, Brondial, and Jericho, were not able to practice a day before our game,” said Austria.
“Isang araw, maghapon sila. Hindi na sila nakapag-practice because they (organizers of opening ceremony) want them to be here at 8 a.m.,” added the coach.
But Cruz allayed whatever fears Austria had by shooting the lights out of MOA Arena, while adding six rebounds and three steals in the Falcons' 12-point victory.
“Mabuti na lang maganda ang nilaro nila,” said Austria.
Although Cruz only had a cameo role in the opening ceremony where he received the symbolic ‘passing of torch’ from Adamson great Kenneth Duremdes, Cruz said attending rehearsals alone for the opening ceremony were also tiring.
But at the back of his mind, Cruz was very excited to have the season finally start.
“Napagod din ako. Iniisip ko na lang maglaro. Hindi ko na iniisip kung gaano ako kapagod,” Cruz said.