Carl Bryan Cruz joins Gilas in Malaysia for SEA Games straight from Fiba Asia Cup
Carl Bryan Cruzis expected to arrive in Kuala Lumpur a day before Gilas Pilipinas second game, against Myanmar. Dante Peralta

AFTER you, Christian Standhardinger.

Carl Bryan Cruz follows the same path as his Gilas Pilipinas teammate as he travels from Beirut, Lebanon all the way to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to join the national team in its campaign in the 29th Southeast Asian Games.

In a Twitter message on his account @coachot, Gilas mentor Chot Reyes disclosed Cruz had just left the team hotel following its final game in the Fiba Asia Cup and is on his way to the Malaysian capital for the SEA Games.

The Filipinos closed out their campaign in the Asian showpiece on Sunday with a 75-70 win over Jordan in the battle for seventh place.

Reyes earlier commended the 6-foot-7 Standhardinger for catching a flight to Manila on Friday from Beirut and then leaving for Malaysia the following day to be with the Gilas team in its opening game against Thailand on Sunday night.

The Fil-German big man bucked fatigue and came through with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds as he helped the team gut out a scrambling 81-74 win against Tyler Lamb and Co.

Both Standhardinger and Cruz were named as part of Gilas’ final 12-man roster for the SEA Games, although Mac Belo is also in Kuala Lumpur as possible last-minute replacement for Cruz who has been hampered with an MCL injury.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) through deputy executive director Bernie Atienza, lobbied to have the hurting Cruz be replaced by Belo during the team managers’ meeting on the eve of the game against Thailand.

But the team wasn’t able to secure an approval from the Malaysian SEA Games Organizing Committee until game time against Thailand, reducing Belo to a mere spectator over at the Gilas bench.

Cruz, the rookie forward for the Alaska Aces, is expected to be in Malaysia on Monday, where Gilas has no scheduled game. If given the go signal to play, he’ll be available to see action against Myanmar on Tuesday.



Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos