By Jonas Terrado
The experience of playing for Guam in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers is something NLEX guard Jericho Cruz hopes would help a great deal for both his PBA career and future stints playing for the United States territory.
Cruz had four points on 2-of-8 shooting with four rebounds and five assists while committing four turnovers in 28 minutes for Guam, which fell 113-94 to New Zealand in Sunday’s game held at the Calvo Fieldhouse.
Despite falling short, Cruz, who grew up in the island which made him eligible to play in FIBA-sanctioned tournaments, opted to look for silver linings.
“It’s a good experience playing against one of the best teams in the world which is New Zealand,” Cruz told the Bulletin hours after the game. “I had fun and I’m looking forward to playing again for Team Guam.”
“Medyo sad lang kasi I got hit in the knee in the first quarter. I know I could’ve done more,” said Cruz, who clarified that the injury was a case of Charlie Horse (muscle spasm) and should cause no problems when he resumes his PBA duties.
“Pero overall I had fun and I will definitely bring this experience to the PBA.”
Guam did show some promise at the start, leading the first quarter 24-22 before New Zealand asserted its will to produce a second straight victory in the qualifiers.
“Kailangan pa namin i-build yung chemistry namin and we have to be in the same direction,” Cruz said when asked of the things Guam needs for its other games against Hong Kong and Australia.
“Tapos yung system ng team dapat same page kaming lahat. It’s my first time playing with most of the guys, so feel ko sa next game I’ll be okay,” added Cruz.
Shea Ili led the Kiwis with 25 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Former NLEX import Curtis Washington produced 19 points and 10 rebounds while ex-Adamson cager Will Stinnett had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists for Guam in the loss.