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Mark Cruz closes regular season with NCAA Player of the Week crown

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Third time’s the charm.

As the Letran Knights completed what was thought to be a pipe dream before the season began, they’ll have the smallest man on their roster to thank for on why they’re in this position in the first place.

Now assured of not only a semis berth but a twice-to-beat advantage, everyone from the Letran community knows that it wouldn’t have been possible without the gigantic efforts of 5’5 guard Mark Cruz.

Needing a win to avoid the complicated step-ladder format for a playoff spot, Cruz once again came to the Knights’ aid as he led Letran to a shocking 93-64 rout of preseason favorite, University of Perpetual Help Altas to book the Knights a return ticket to the semifinals after a brief absence last week.

A surprise starter after usually coming off the bench all season long, the wily guard scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half, the time where the Knights broke the Altas’ spirit and sprinted to a 50-26 advantage, a lead that they meticulously protected.

For his efforts, Cruz was once again named the ACCEL Quantum/3XVI-NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week award, the third time he won it this season.

Cruz, who also finished with eight assists in that game, attributed the victory to hid squad’s decisiveness and eagerness to bounce back from their loss to San Beda. “Mas aggressive kami. Yun yung naging storya ng game,” Cruz said. “Sinabihan kami ni coach na coming from a loss, kailangan namin mag bounce back and ito yung pinakita namin. We stayed together kahit natalo kami sa San Beda, ginawa namin yung game plan ni coach kaya ito ang naging resulta,” he added.

But the biggest move that Cruz probably did was something that he did off the court as he was seen approaching an incosolable Scottie Thompson after the match. In a great gesture of sportsmanship, Cruz gave the reigning Most Valuable Player a hug and some words of encouragement when Thompson was crying all alone in the Perpetual bench.

“Sabi ko great effort parin. Pumanig lang rin yung shooting sa amin. Mas maganda yung field goals namin, nakita ko din naman kasi yung effort niya e. Sinabi ko rin na good luck sa PBA career niya.”

Cruz edged out the following student-athletes for the weekly accolade:
Josan Nimes (MIT)Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Mark Cruz closes regular season with NCAA Player of the Week crown
Week Average: 10.5 PPG, 54% FG, 5.5 APG
Wins over: Emilio Aguinaldo College, College of Saint Benilde

Darell Menina (MIT)Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Mark Cruz closes regular season with NCAA Player of the Week crown    Week Average: 15.5 PPG, 3 3FGM
Wins over: Emilio Aguinaldo College, College of Saint Benilde

Paolo Pontejos (JRU)Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Mark Cruz closes regular season with NCAA Player of the Week crown    Week Average: 23 points, 5 3FGM, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
Win over: San Sebastian College-Recoletos

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