NLEX’s Jericho Cruz said his stint with Guam in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers several months ago had a big effect in his string of good performances in the PBA Philippine Cup.
Cruz has been key in the Road Warriors’ three-game winning run, the last two in Bacolor, Pampanga where they were able to move into the top four of the standings with a 4-2 record.
He saw action for Guam in June when it faced Hong Kong twice in the final window of the continental qualifiers in Amman, Jordan.
“Doon ko nakuha yung kumpiyansa ko,” said Cruz, who grew up in the Oceanian country which made him eligible to play in FIBA tournaments. “Pagdating ko galing sa experience ko sa international, dinadala ko lang dito (sa NLEX) under coach Yeng Guiao.”
The 30-year-old averaged 22.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.5 steals when Guam posted 103-83 and 112-66 wins over Hong Kong.
In those two games, Cruz also shot 63 percent from the field spiked by eight three-pointers.
Scoring is just one of many things Cruz has been contributing for the Road Warriors this conference.
Cruz is averaging 11.8 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals in six Philippine Cup games at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City and Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor.
But in two wins since Bacolor hosted the Philippine Cup resumption, Cruz hiked his averages to 17.0 points on a 52-percent clip with 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals in defeating Alaska (84-74) and Phoenix Super LPG (94-76).
Both victories came despite the absence of Kiefer Ravena, whose timetable remains unsure after leaving for Japan to arrange requirements for his upcoming B.League stint with the Shiga Lakestars.
“Sa akin, medyo mahirap i-fill ang shoes ni Kiefer eh pero for my part I’ll just do my role ko sa team kung ano ang ipapagawa ni coach, yun ang gagawin ko,” said Cruz. “Collectively, kaya siguro namin yun as a team.”