“Pagtatrabahuhan ko yun.”
During the 39th William Jones Cup in Taiwan a week ago, Carl Cruz was having a little chit-chat with a member of the press during Gilas’ break. Cruz then asked that same person regarding the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, if he has a chance to crack into the Lebanon-bound team.
“Depende eh. Baka puro beterano na ipadala dun?” replied the media practitioner.
The 25-year-old Alaska Aces rookie, who, a few weeks prior to the Jones Cup, had also been named to the national squad set to defend the country’s gold medal in the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia, then paused for a while, trying to fathom the response he had just heard.
“Pagtatrabahuhan ko yun,” answered Cruz, with willingness and hunger all in his eyes.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, just this past Wednesday night, took to Instagram to announce the lineup specifically built for the biennial continental meet. It may be just a simple post, but for Cruz, it was a wish granted — a culmination of one of his dreams.
The Far Eastern University Tamaraw saw his name on the lineup, along with the likes of veterans Jayson Castro, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, and Terrence Romeo. As he saw his name along with the country’s best, Cruz was nothing but surprised.
“Actually ‘di ko nga ine-expect eh,” said the Quezon City resident, after Gilas’ practice Thursday night at the Upper Deck Gym in Pasig.
“Sa 24 (players) na nasa pool, feeling ko malayo talaga ako. So nung inannounce ni Coach Chot, talagang ‘di ako makapaniwala.”
And Cruz believes that his decent showings in Taipei last week, where he played all nine games and averaged 7.2 points on 40 percent shooting from beyond the arc to go with 1.6 rebounds, played a huge factor as to why he was named by Reyes to the team.
“Sa tingin ko yun yung big factor kaya ako nakapasok sa lineup,” Cruz opined.
After being named to the squad set for Beirut in August, Cruz is about to perform triple duties for the country — first in the Jones Cup, next in the FIBA Asia Cup, and third in the SEA Games. It is obviously a tiring haul, but Cruz does not think anything of it.
“Nakakapagod, pero yung mga ganitong opportunity, bibihira lang eh,” stated Cruz, who has been with the program since 2016, right after his stint with the Cafe France Bakers in the PBA D-League. “Kumbaga, bihira lang dumating sa buhay mo. ‘Di mo na iindahin yung pagod basta para lang sa bayan.”
Now that he has earned his place to the team, Cruz could not wait any longer to strut his stuff on the court and prove the doubters wrong, that he is deserving of the spot given to him.
“Basta sa’kin, gagawin ko lang part ko, yung pinapagawa lang sakin ni Coach Chot. Tsaka ibibigay ko lang best ko.”