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Carl Cruz answers Nash Racela’s call, makes early return for Blackwater


Carl Cruz did not expect to be tested right away as he played his first game back for Blackwater after a long while, Wednesday.

The 6-foot-4 forward finally returned to action after a year and nine months due to a knee injury, and he immediately had to log in long minutes against TNT in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup resumption in Pampanga.

Cruz played for a total of 22 minutes and 52 seconds as he had to fill in the void left by 6-foot-7 slotman Marion Magat, who suffered an apparent ankle injury barely two minutes into the match off a rebound attempt.

“Hindi ko in-expect na maglalaro ako ng matagal this game, lagpas 20 minutes ata ako eh,” he told Tiebreaker Times. “Controlled minutes dapat ako pero s*** happened, na-ankle injury ata si Marion Magat. Natapilok.

“So, kinailangan na niya ‘kong ipasok, ni Coach Nash [Racela],” furthered the 30-year-old.

“Napaaga lang talaga.”

Fortunately, Cruz ably stepped up. He went on to finish with 11 points on 2-of-3 shooting from deep, alongside six rebounds and two steals.

The sweet-shooting big man said that his familiarity with the system of head coach Nash Racela, his mentor since his Far Eastern University days, came into play — as well as the excitement to play for someone dear to him.

“Excited talaga ako makalaro again kay Coach Nash, alam mo naman. Kaya nung pagbalik ko rito sa game, kumbaga hindi na bago sa akin yung sistema ni Coach Nash tsaka yung gusto niyang mangyari sa loob ng court.

“Familiarity-wise, may advantage ako,” said Cruz, who finished with a silver medal with Racela during his last UAAP run with the Tamaraws in 2014.

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Unfortunately, his return did not turn out in the most ideal of the ways. Blackwater turned in a solid performance first half, but failed to sustain such come the second half and went on to lose by 20, 76-96.

It was the Bossing’s fifth defeat in as many outings. And for the former Gilas Pilipinas stalwart, the main issue within the team is its composure.

“‘Yung pino-point out ni Coach Nash, minsan, kunwari may error ‘yung isa, nadi-discourage na ‘yung buong team, kumbaga bumabagsak agad,” he said.

“Sayang kasi, nung first half ang ganda, lamang kami. Then nung third quarter may mga mistakes lang. Contagious e, kumbaga once na may nag-commit ng mistake, mahahawa rin ‘yung ibang players,” he added.

Still, Cruz believes that this is something the team could work on and improve as they aim to end a 13-game losing skid that dates back to last year.

“‘Yun ‘yung dinedevelop, still. Hopefully makapag-adjust kami this coming games.”

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.


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