Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Tiebreaker Times


Though saddened by Leo Austria’s situation, Jericho Cruz vows to remain a pro in SMB

Life goes on for Jericho Cruz even if the very reason why he went to San Miguel is no longer running the show for the PBA’s most successful ball club.

Although he misses long-time mentor Leo Austria, the 32-year-old understands that it’s all part of basketball’s business side – a reality he himself is very much aware of, given his experiences over the course of his pro career.

“Nakaka-miss din si Coach Leo,” he said. “Pero ganun ‘yung buhay basketball natin e, ‘di ba? ‘Di natin alam – even kami, as players, ‘di natin alam kung hanggang kailan kami maglalaro or hanggang kailan kami sa team namin.

“Ito ‘yung business natin e, ‘di ba? Ako, I’m preparing lang myself. As long as pumapasok ako everyday giving my best all the time, kung mangyari man kung ano mang mangyari, at least alam ko sa sarili ko, ready ako.

Austria, 64, was named consultant of the Beermen prior to the Governors’ Cup, with long-time deputy Jorge Gallent appointed as the new head coach.

That development, of course, sent shockwaves to the league, given that the veteran mentor molded the star-studded Beermen into one of the best teams ever – even accomplishing an unprecedented Philippine Cup five-peat.

And last season saw him beef up his roster by bringing in some of his Adamson University students, firstly big man Rodney Brondial and then Cruz. The two enjoyed the perks of the league’s new free agency ruling.

But it’s all different now. The decorated bench tactician has yet to rejoin the team since the shakeup. Then again, it’s about staying pro, said Cruz.

#ReadMore  SEA Games: Johann Chua catches biggest break, outlasts Biado for gold

“Siyempre, professional tayo,” said the ninth pick of the 2014 Draft, who’s now his first full season with SMB. “Pagdating sa court, trabaho tayo.”

He showed as much on Wednesday.

Cruz finished with a game-high 22 points on three triples off the bench as San Miguel dealt Blackwater a 105-86 beating for their second win in as many games in the Governors’ Cup.

The 6-foot-1 guard out of Guam said that it is his way of repaying the coaches’ trust, which he’s glad didn’t waver after scoring just two in their conference debut versus Phoenix.

2023-PBA-Governors-Cup-Blackwater-vs-San-Miguel-Jericho-Cruz Though saddened by Leo Austria's situation, Jericho Cruz vows to remain a pro in SMB Basketball News PBA  - philippine sports news

“Sinabihan lang ako ng mga coaching staff na just be you,” he said moments after the match at the Philsports Arena, “Kung ano mga ginagawa mo nung last conference na maganda nilalaro mo, gawin mo lang.

“Wala namang nagbago. Natutuwa naman ako kasi alam kong laki ng tiwala nila sa akin. Pero sa side ko gusto ko rin ibalik yung tiwala nila sa akin.”

His reunion with Austria didn’t last as long as they would have wanted but nothing will ever change between the two, Cruz said.

And at least, they accomplished something that they had been hoping for ever since their Soaring Falcons days before parting ways.

“Sobrang special sa’kin ‘yun siyempre,” said Cruz, referring to the 2022 Philippine Cup championship they won together just last September. “Magkasama kami nun sa Adamson, hindi kami nanalo.

“Kahit papano, nung nawala si Coach Leo, naka-champion kami isa. Siyempre ‘yun ‘yung mga memory na I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.”

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

You May Also Like


Tim Cone couldn’t help but allude to a Filipino cult classic when asked about the possibility of another Ginebra-Meralco duel in the PBA Governors’...


TNT believes that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson could play even better moving forward now that the PBA playoffs’ tip-off schedule will be in primetime. And that’s...


Mikey Williams simply didn’t want to be ‘gunshy’ again in TNT’s crucial Game 3 tiff against Meralco in the PBA Governors’ Cup semis Wednesday...


Rondae Hollis-Jefferson submitted his best performance of the conference to date to power TNT’s 99-80 blasting of Meralco to move a win away from...


Christian Standhardinger further solidified his bid of securing the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Best Player of the Conference award after helping Barangay Ginebra book...


There’s a chance Japeth Aguilar comes back soon. Ginebra head coach Tim Cone said that his star center could return to action in Game...


Justin Brownlee and Christian Standhardinger connived as Ginebra frustrated San Miguel, 87-85, to sweep its way to yet another PBA Governors’ Cup Finals appearance,...


Ginebra big man Christian Standhardinger is making waves in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup. He’s the front-runner in the Best Player of the...