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Gilas cadet Cruz finds silver lining from past injuries

Back in 2014, the Far Eastern University Tamaraws had been coming off a silver finish in the 77th season of the UAAP Men’s Basketball tournament. One of the graduating players of that batch of Tamaraws was Carl Bryan Cruz, a 6-foot-3 forward that could stretch the floor.

However, Cruz did not have a standout senior year with FEU, posting norms of just 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. The finals series that pitted them against eventual-champions National University Bulldogs had further magnified the struggles of Cruz, who totaled just eight points and ten rebounds in the three-game series, plunging his draft stock to its lowest.

“Well grabe, after kasi ng UAAP, ang pangit ng performance ko, tapos papa-draft sana ako,” shared Cruz.

But an ACL injury he had incurred months prior to the 2014 PBA Rookie Draft derailed his plans of going pro. Suffering another setback, the 25-year-old needed to rebuild himself. Fortunately for him, coach Egay Macaraya and the Café France Bakers, a semi-pro team in the PBA D-League, opened their doors for him to come in.

PBA-Images-CFB-Carl-Cruz Gilas cadet Cruz finds silver lining from past injuries Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News PBA  - philippine sports news

Carl Cruz is averaging 16ppg with Cafe France during its 2016 Foundation Cup campaign

“Malaking pasasalamat ko rin sa Café France, kila Coach Egay, na tinulungan nila ako then pagbalik ko, wala pa akong kumpyansa sa sarili ko, pinush lang talaga ako ni Coach Egay,” reflected Cruz Friday afternoon during the 2016 SLAM Draft Suite.

“Na-develop ko naman yung sarili ko, nag-improve ako, napatunayan ko sa iba na kaya ko talaga.”

Cruz helped lead the Bakers to a Finals appearance during the 2016 Aspirants Cup, while becoming a perennial MVP candidate in both conferences of the D-League. His resurgence, a new lease on life, opened another door for him as he was invited to enter the Gilas program.File-Photo-Gilas-Pilipinas-5.0 Gilas cadet Cruz finds silver lining from past injuries Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News PBA  - philippine sports news

#ReadMore  Rising star Santisima thankful for a fruitful 2016

“After kasi ng Iran namin, wala pa kaming balita, so wala focus muna talaga ako sa drafting. Nagpasa muna ako sa regular draft,” he said.

“Tapos yun nga, nagulat din talaga ako na pinatawag na lang ako sa meeting sa Gilas na kasama pala ako sa Final 12 na cadets so napaka-swerte lang rin.”

Being one of the 12 players who would enter the special Gilas draft was an unexpected blessing for the former Tamaraw. Instead of plunging in with the other 33 hopefuls, he is one of the lucky few that is guaranteed a spot with a club team. And Cruz is not letting this opportunity pass him by as he plans to further work on his game entering the big league.

“May nakausap naman ako na former teammates ko. Si Aldrech Ramos, sabi sa akin i-develop ko daw yung dribbling ko. Kailangan mag-adjust ako sa laro ko.

“Pag akyat ko daw dun, pag nag =forward ako, magiging undersized ako, so much better kung sa three spot ako maglaro,” he said.

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