PRO-bound Mark Cruz is making the most of his final playing year in college, looking to give Letran a championship in Season 91 of the NCAA basketball tournament.
And the diminutive point guard has so far not missed a beat since being chosen in the third round by the Star Hotshots in the last PBA draft.
“Gusto ko muna ma-experience mag-champion dito sa NCAA,” said Cruz, who made the finals in 2013 with a Knights team that lost to eventual champion San Beda.
“Kasi for me napakasarap maglaro sa collegiate. Mami-miss ko ‘to ng sobra kaya make the most ko itong last year kong ito.”
The younger brother of former PBA player Marvin Cruz said he cherished the moment when his name was called on stage during draft day, but had to stay focused on helping the Knights win their first championship in a decade.
“Ini-enjoy ko ‘yung night na ‘yun kasi may chance ako sa PBA,” he shared to Spin.ph. “Pero ngayon hindi ko muna iniisip ang PBA, focus muna ako sa NCAA.”
Days after he was drafted, Cruz proved he’s ripe for the big league.
The ‘Ant Man’ poured a season-high 30 points in a heartbreaking 88-87 loss to San Sebastian, and then came back to score 29 markers – along with four rebounds and two steals – in the Knights’ 86-76 win over Emilio Aguinaldo College.
To cap it off, he exploded for 26 points anchored on eight three pointers in Letran’s 74-57 demolition of Lyceum in a game that saw him grab five rebounds and dish off five assists.
The back-to-back wins propelled the Knights back to a tie with San Beda Red Lions on top of the standings with similar 10-2 marks.
“May pressure naman lagi pero tinu-turn ko siya as motivation kaya siguro nagiging maganda ang laro ko,” said Cruz of his last three games which had him average 28.3 points.
“May ganoong factor kasi ito ‘yung magiging basehan ko ‘yung NCAA kung pagbibigyan ako sa PBA,” he added. “Kailangan kong ipakita na kaya kong dalhin ‘yung team although hindi ko naman ‘yun kaya mag-isa.”