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Art dela Cruz felt like a rookie in his return after almost two-year absence



Tiebreaker Times Art dela Cruz felt like a rookie in his return after almost two-year absence Basketball News PBA  PBA Season 43 Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Art dela Cruz 2018 PBA Governors Cup

After missing basketball for over a year – no thanks to an Achilles injury he sustained during a Gilas Pilipinas practice back in March 2017 – second-generation cager Art Dela Cruz is slowly regaining his form.

The 6-foot-4 forward played his second game in three outings for the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Sunday night, when the reigning two-time Governors’ Cup champs took on rivals TNT KaTropa at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Dela Cruz was even fielded in as a starter. He played for over 13 minutes and had three points, four boards, and three dimes as Ginebra blasted TNT, 113-92, to head into the season-ending tilt’s quarterfinals as the top seed.

“Nanibago ako, para akong naging rookie,” said the 26-year-old.

Though he felt a bit different, Dela Cruz – one of San Beda’s all-time greats – made it known that he couldn’t be more satisfied with the support given to him by Ginebra head coach Tim Cone and the whole Barangay on his journey.

“Masaya, masaya ‘saka overwhelming. Grabe yung suportang binibigay, ‘saka ni coach Tim, binibigay sa’min, confidence ‘saka trust kasi tagal nang hinintay niya sa’kin,” said a grateful Dela Cruz. “Actually, hindi pa niya ‘ko pinipilit.

“Sinasabi pa niya sa’kin every practice ‘wag mo masyadong pahirapan yung sarili mo and pang next season lang talaga yung hinahabol niya sa’kin. Kung ano man mabigay ko this conference, it’s a bonus for him, for the team.”

Asked how has he been since that unfortunate injury, the ninth overall pick by the Blackwater Elite in the 2015 Draft said that he’s “getting there.”

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“Mga eighty-percent,” Dela Cruz said. “Kailangan pa ng hangin eh. Kailangan pang perfekin yung play, yung system pero getting there na rin, tsaka yung mga teammates ko, para malaman nila kung ano yung laro ko.”

“Medyo matagal akong nawala eh kaya ‘di na nila alam paano yung laro ko.”