With the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel going into the Christmas Clasico affair with a depleted line-up, Jervy Cruz delivered.
The 31-year-old forward took advantage of Joe Devance’s and Sol Mercado’s absence in their 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup opener, scoring 12 markers to help Ginebra reign triumphant over the also-depleted Magnolia Hotshots, 89-78.
Devance was in the venue but had his left foot on a cast, while Mercado is still recovering from a left ankle injury he sustained last October.
“Ako naman, ready lang ako. Injured si Joe, injured si Sol, basta may chance ako maglaro, ibibigay ko ang lahat para makatulong sa team,” said the eighth-year veteran after the match at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan. “Yun naman ang mentality ko.
“Nakakahiya sa maraming tao na Christmas Day, matalo kami kaya binigay namin ang lahat.”
Cruz’s 12-point, eight-rebound outing was only part of the Barangay’s well-deployed attack — a sneak peek of how the Gin Kings can be dangerous in the all-Filipino tilt that has been lorded by the San Miguel Beermen for three years now.
For the three-time champion, he and the rest of the Barangay are motivated to show the other teams that they are also a force to be reckoned with in the all-local tournament, not just in import-laden ones.
“Talagang pinupush namin ang isa’t isa ngayon all-Filipino kasi gusto naming ‘di lang may import mag-champion,” shared the University of Santo Tomas great.
“Gusto rin naming ipakita na kaya namin kahit walang import.”
Many, especially the Barangay’s detractors, have always insisted that Ginebra can only win championships whenever famed reinforcement Justin Brownlee, the star of their back-to-back Governor”s Cup titles, plays for them.
Just like Greg Slaughter, Cruz believes that those sentiments are what pushes the crowd darlings to do well in the local tilt, which they last won in 2007, saying, “Galing kami sa champion, pero sinasabi ni coach Tim (Cone), ‘di [laging] nandiyan lang si Justin.
“Dapat mag-step up din kami.”
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