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Dela Cruz offers no excuses in loss to Mahindra



Tiebreaker Times Dela Cruz offers no excuses in loss to Mahindra Basketball News PBA  PBA Season 42 Blackwater Elite Art dela Cruz 2016-17 PBA All Filipino Conference

The lowly Mahindra Floodbuster reminded the Blackwater Elite that they still have loads of learning to do

The Blackwater Elite, a team that has won two straight games and are on the running for solo second, were on their way to another victory against Mahindra — grabbing a 79-64 with 7:50 remaining in the game. But then disaster struck on Christmas day.

Earlier in the game — six minutes into the third frame to be exact, second-year Elite Art dela Cruz was accidentally hit by a 12-to-6 elbow right on his left shoulder by bruiser Mark Yee. The former San Beda Red Lion was able to play through it but it was not the same case for fellow Red Lion Kyle Pascual.

“Masakit pa rin. Actually, ayaw ko na nga ilaro eh, but nung kailangan ako ng team ko, sabi ni coach [Leo Isaac], laro pa rin,” the 24-year-old shared.

“Sa mga ganoong situwasyon, laban na lang.”

Pascual, on the other hand, was in a rebounding skirmish with, ironically, Yee with 5:31 left. The big man’s right arm was trapped by Yee and was exposed after trying to grab the loose ball. Pascual did not return to the game, citing that he was unable to, at the very least, raise his arm.

“Malaking bagay yung injury namin ni Kyle kasi doon nag0set ng tone at nag-run ang Mahindra kaya umabot ng 17-2 run,” the three-time NCAA champion lamented.

With Pascual out and Dela Cruz clearly bothered by the pain on his shoulder, the defense of Blackwater collapsed, allowing Alex Mallari and the rest of Mahindra to slash through the lane with ease. The Floodbuster were able to send the game into extra time. Then, the inexperience of the young Elite team showed, committing a bevvy of errors in overtime that basically handed the game over to Mahindra, 97-93.

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“Sobrang sakit sa amin na panalo na dapat, natalo pa,” the ninth overall pick in the 2015 draft shared.

“No excuses. I’ll take the blame.”

Even if the second generation cager had a strong outing with 18 points, six rebounds, three assists, and four steals, he allowed LA Revilla to hit a corner triple with 7:27 left in the fourth quarter to spark the 17-2 rally. It was just one of the many signals in the game that showed that they are still a young team.

And Dela Cruz hopes that they can learn from this heartbreaking defeat.

“Every game counts simula sa January. Important sa amin. Possession by possession na ang laro,” he stressed.

“Kahit malakas ang kalaban, sundin lang namin ang gameplan kasi kapag hindi namin nasusunod, nasisira ang composure namin.”