It wasn’t the debut that Jericho Cruz wanted.
Cruz played his first game as a Road Warrior when NLEX took on the Magnolia Hotshots in 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup action Friday. Unfortunately, it was a forgettable one, as they ended the night with an 88-98 loss.
That loss dropped the Road Warriors to their sixth loss in as many games, sending them to the bottom of the standings.
But despite the disappointing result, the five-year pro out of Adamson is just happy to just be out of TNT’s cellar.
“Sobrang saya. It’s good to be back playing under coach [Yeng Guiao].”
The 6-foot-1 Cruz – whom NLEX acquired from sister team TNT in a three-team trade that also involved NorthPort just this Monday – played for the first time in a few months after being shelved by the Texters.
He was also happy to play his first game back under Guiao.
Cruz has always expressed how much he owes Guiao after the seasoned mentor gave him his break when they were still both with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters franchise, where they shared a PBA title together.
“First game ko pa lang, I think I played twenty-six, twenty-seven minutes? So yung tiwala niya sa’kin andun pa din,” said Cruz, who actually played for 27 minutes and 47 seconds and finished with eight assists, six points, three rebounds, and a steal.
“Nasa ‘kin na yun. Kailangan kong ibalik yung tiwala niya, kaya back to work na naman ako.”
Speaking of ‘back to work’, Cruz admits he really will have to work out, since he still feels out of gas. The former Most Improved Player awardee then vowed that he will regain his game shape soon enough.
“Yung first two minutes ko sa court, talagang ‘di ko alam saan ako kukuha ng hinga eh. Talagang pagod na pagod ako, yung up and down four times. Pagod na pagod ako,” the 28-year-old admitted. “Nag-ask pa nga ako ng sub eh.
“Nung third quarter na, back to normal na. Pero ang hirap pa din eh. Siyempre almost three months out tapos kakabalik lang, and three practices with NLEX lang. Pero okay naman, nakaka-adjust naman ako,” Cruz furthered.
“Siguro two or three games, I’ll be back in shape.”
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