It’s rare for somebody to play for two national teams, which is why Jericho Cruz feels honored that he has done so.
The shifty guard has just come off a tour of duty with Guam in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers’ first window. There, he suited up against Oceania powerhouse New Zealand last February 23.
Cruz’s stint with Guam came about seven years after he played for Sinag Pilipinas, which bagged the gold medal in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar.
The Filipino-Northern Mariana Islander remained eligible to play for Guam since the SEA Games is not a FIBA-sanctioned event.
“It’s good. It’s really a privilege and an honor at the same time. I get to represent my two countries, from my mom’s side and my dad’s side,” Cruz expressed.
“I’m just happy.”
The 29-year-old’s debut didn’t go as planned, as Guam lost, 94-113. Moreover, he only finished with four points on 2-of-8 shooting along with five assists, four rebounds, and four turnovers.
But Cruz actually logged in 28 minutes. He did not expect that much playing time, but the incoming six-year pro feels grateful for the trust of his coaches.
“‘Di ko naman ine-expect kasi lahat ng mga kasama ko doon, they’re all pros from different countries eh. So I’m just glad that they gave me the time, may tiwala sila sa ‘kin,” he said.
Cruz couldn’t be happier with his experience playing for Guam. And he also hopes that he will be able to carry that over for NLEX in the new PBA season, which starts March 8.
“I got to play against one of the best teams in the world which is New Zealand.
“‘Yung experience na ‘yun, I hope madala ko sa team namin this coming season, for the All-Filipino Cup,” he said.
And since it was a great stint for him, the Adamson University product hopes to do it once more.
There is actually another opportunity for him, in the Asia Cup Qualifiers’ second window this November. So Cruz hopes that he will be allowed by the Road Warriors’ brass to play again.
“I hope so. Napayagan na nila ako, so I’m hoping na payagan nila ulit ako,” he said.
“Kasi alam ko sabay ata ng Gilas ‘yung window eh, so ‘pag nagka-break ‘yung Gilas guys, siguro try ko rin magpaalam.”
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