Jericho Cruz turned in his best performance with Guam, leading his side to a 103-83 triumph over Hong Kong in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ third window at the Prince Hamza Sport Hall in Amman, Jordan Sunday night.
The NLEX Road Warriors guard fired 24 points on 5-of-8 shooting from deep, along with seven assists, four rebounds, and three steals in nearly 30 minutes as the cagers from Micronesia finally got their first-ever ACQ win.
Fourteen of his points came in the first quarter, as he powered the Guamainians’ attack en route to a commanding 35-19 advantage at period’s end.
Cruz was also responsible for stopping the opposition’s momentum in the next frame. When Hong Kong trimmed the deficit to nine, he immediately brought the lead back up to double digits with a lay-up off his own steal, 44-33.
His teammates picked it up from there, and the game was never in doubt since then as Guam cruised to the dominant victory.
Tai Wesley top-scored for the winning side with 25 points, on top of 10 rebounds and nine assists. Former PBA import Curtis Washington made 16 points and six boards, as Joseph Blas, Jr. chimed in 12 markers.
Fil-Guamanians Chris Conner and Ben Borja both had nine points each as well.
Guam redeemed itself from the 94-113 beatdown it suffered in the hands of world powerhouse New Zealand in the first window back in February 2020, thus the elation being felt by head coach EJ Calvo.
“It’s huge for us,” he expressed after their historic win. “This is the first time we’ve ever played in a FIBA Asia Cup qualifier. We’re excited about getting into this moment.
“We always told ourselves whenever there’s an opportunity to play, we will be there and we’ll do the best we can. We’re very happy to be here. And I hope our small island of Guam is happy we got our first win,” he added.
Chi Lok Jolin So led Hong Kong with 18 points and five rebounds in the defeat, which was their second in as many games in the ACQ.
Both teams will play each other again on Tuesday, June 15, at 4:00 p.m. as they look to earn a spot in the tournament proper in August.