JERICHO Cruz confirmed he is leaving Adamson to join the PBA Rookie Draft this year, believing it is as good a time as any to start a pro career especially with two expansion teams set to make their debut.
Cruz told Spin.ph now is the right time to jump to the professional ranks with the entry of Blackwater Sports and Kia Motors expanding the league roster to 12 teams starting in the 2014-2015 season.
The Adamson hotshot’s decision came after a busy but impressive UAAP offseason that saw him land a spot in the Sinag Pilipinas lineup in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar, and Blackwater Sports in the PBA D-League.
“Mas maganda ang opportunity ngayon kasi nakapaglaro ako ng Team Pilipinas sa Sinag tapos maganda rin ’yung pinakita ko sa Blackwater sa D-League,” Cruz told Spin.ph.
“Mas maganda rin ’yung time na pumasok na 'yung Blackwater at Kia so nadagdagan ’yung players, more chances for me,” he added.
The King Falcon said it was a tough decision to skip his final year with the school but, ultimately, going pro is for the sake of his newborn baby.
“Ang hirap talaga. Pinagisipan ko ’yun all summer long talaga. Parang there was a time na gusto ko rin tapusin dahil iba rin ’yung UAAP. Pero nakapag-isip rin ako magpa-draft dahil may baby na ako, kailangan ko rin financially,” said Cruz.
Cruz said he also sought the advice of Leo Austria, his mentor at Adamson who is now a scouting and recruiting official at Ateneo, and Blackwater head tactician Leo Isaac.
He also made sure to talk to the entire team first before making public his decision to make the jump to the pro ranks.
“Before ako umalis, kinausap ko lahat. Ayokong may masira. Kinausap ko lahat, para maging okay ’yung paglabas ko. I talked to coach Kenneth (Duremdes) at mga players, management, and staff. Umalis ako in good terms,” said Cruz.
Cruz was also picked to play in the Master Game Face Challenge featuring NCAA, UAAP and PBA players, and although it was only a free-wheeling game, he said it was still an opportunity to play with professional players.
“Kaya I cherish ’yung moment na tinitignan ko 'yung laro nila kahit hindi ‘go hard,’” said Cruz.
Cruz said he is now preparing to join tryouts and other activities leading up to the PBA Draft on August 24 at Robinson's Place in Manila.
“First of all, ’yung physicality. Pinaghahandaan ko talaga. Siguro sa umpisa, mahihirapan pero makakapag-adjust din ako,” Cruz added.