Fresh start for Jericho Cruz
The six-foot-one guard played his first game for TNT on Wednesday night, and he immediately impressed, as he delivered 17 markers to help the Katropa win over the NLEX Road Warriors in lopsided fashion, 101-76.
“Jericho brought major contributions,” said head coach Nash Racela. “It’s no secret that, at this point, our team has no depth, and the addition of Jericho helps us in our rotation. It gives us an extra guy whom we can give major minutes.
“And it also helped that he had a week of practice with us.”
“Malaking tulong si Jericho sa’min,” admitted the Texters’ primary floor general Jayson Castro, on the other hand. “Kasi kung makita niyo naman kanina, kahit nasa bench ako, at least may nago-operate ng offense.”
Cruz, whom TNT acquired last February 15 via trade with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, also had four assists, three rebounds, and two steals. He admitted that he had been eager for his debut, but a text from RoS teammate James Yap helped him ease down.
“I’m excited kanina kaya medyo kinontrol ko lang sarili ko,” said the 27-year-old. “I got a text from James na ‘wag kang gigil, just be yourself and play, just relax and enjoy the game.
“Good results naman.”
But even with the commendable numbers he provided for the Katropa in the much-needed victory, the former Adamson Falcon still feels like he still has a lot of work to do for him to be able to totally grasp Racela’s system.
“Medyo nangangapa pa rin ako sa sistema ni coach Nash,” admitted the four-year pro. “Yun nga medyo nung endgame pinasok pa niya ako para makipag-vibes ako sa game, pero eventually makukuha ko rin yun.”
Wednesday’s win has boosted TNT’s chances for the 2018 Philippine Cup playoffs, but their status is still uncertain. That does not, however, mean that Cruz will stop working.
“Hinihintay pa namin kung ano yung mangyayari [sa playoffs] pero as for me, I’m not gonna stop from here. You know, keep doing my work, trabaho lang ako tapos pakundisyon,” said Cruz, who recently recovered from a foot injury.
“Para pagdating ng kung ano mangyari, kung sa eighth place man kami makalaban namin ang San Miguel sa twice-to-beat, at least nandun yung conditioning ko.”