In preparation for the 2017 Jones Cup, the young Gilas cadets are figuring in a series of tune-ups. The goal for this exercise is for both coach Chot Reyes and the cadets to familiarize themselves with one another.
But Carl Cruz is using this as his showcase, trying to prove that he belongs.
The Alaska Aces rookie pumped 22 points, including 11 of Gilas’ last 18 points in the final frame, to power his side to a 105-101 win over the Elite. Moreover, he shot 6-of-11 from the floor, with five coming from beyond the arc.
“Naging flow ko na lang din yung offense namin. Right time tsaka right spot talaga. Lahat bumabagsak,” said the six-foot-four Cruz of his night.
“Yun yung beauty ng dribble-drive, lagi ako na-o-open tsaka yung iba kong teammates.”
Even Gilas head coach Chot Reyes sang praises for the 25-year-old after his stellar performance, and the tactician hopes that the sweet-shooting frontliner can do it consistently.
“CBC plays the role of Ranidel de Ocampo in this team. He knows what’s expected of him,” lauded the long-time mentor of the Far Eastern University product.
“The key now for CBC is to be able to do that on a consistent basis.”
Cruz’s Friday night explosion proved to be his best performance yet in a Gilas uniform. But for the Novaliches resident, his notable outing is just a result of his never-ending quest to prove that he deserves to be with the team.
“Every practice, every game, gusto ko i-prove sa kanila na deserving ako rito sa Gilas. Gusto ko maipakita sa kanila na pinagtatrabauhan ko yung slot [ko],” said Cruz, who will don the national colors in the Jones Cup and the SEA Games.
Gilas will figure in their third tune-up game this week, which will take place on Saturday, July 8, against Alaska — Cruz’s mother team. The soft-spoken newbie, though, insisted that he will just play the way he should, for Gilas of course.
“Mother team ko yun eh, yun talaga yung family ko. Pero at this moment, focus muna ako sa Gilas eh, so ‘pag naglaro kami bukas, basta trabaho lang. Wala munang teammate-teammate,” said Cruz of his match versus the Aces.
“Pero love ko sila.”
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