Mark Cruz showed the way for the Tanduay Rhum Masters, as they inched closer to the last twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals with a 78-60 rout of the Blustar Detergent Dragons, Thursday afternoon at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
“Alam namin yung scenario. How we’re going to perform or show up is another story,” said coach Lawrence Chongson, who remains dissatisfied with the effort his team has been showing throughout the course of the conference.
Cruz, the 30th overall pick in the 2015 PBA Draft, immediately made an impact, firing 11 of his 17 points right in the first frame. Tanduay led much as 31 points in the game, 59-28, in the same quarter.
The pint-sized guard shot 6-of-9 from the field, while also collecting five rebounds and three assists in the victory.
Jerwin Gaco added 10 markers and five boards off the bench in the easy win.
Tanduay rose to fourth place with their 5-3 card and can secure the seat — which comes with twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals — with a win against Jose Rizal University (4-4) next Tuesday.
“I still don’t see the consistency. I’m not looking beyond JRU, but the way we’re performing is still a concern for me. Hopefully, we jell on time for the playoffs,” Chongson added.
Tristan Perez carried Blustar (0-8) with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Vincent Choong had 15 markers.
Both teams’ final assignments in the elimination round are set on March 14, Tuesday, at the JCSGO Gym in Cubao, Quezon City. BluStar will play first at 3:00 PM against Victoria Sports-MLQU, while Tanduay and JRU will battle at 5:00 PM.
Tanduay (78) – Cruz 17, Gaco 10, Sanga 10, Santos 8, Varilla 7, Eguilos 6, Vigil 6, Stevens 3, Villamor 3, Asuncion 2, Cenal 2, Palma 2, Quinto 2, Sollano 0.
Blustar Detergent (60) – Perez 20, Choong 15, Melano 10, Mak 6, Liaw 5, Ong 4, Heng 0, Ang 0, Kwaan 0, Chin 0.
Quarterscores: 17-10, 44-20, 66-42, 78-60.