The absence of injured Paul Lee gave cat-quick guard Jericho Cruz an opportunity to show his true worth in the ongoing Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup.
Showcasing his athleticism and hustle, the former Adamson shooting guard delivered the key baskets time and time again to help Rain or Shine register victories against Barako Bull and the resurgent Barangay Ginebra over the weekend.
His exploits did not go unnoticed as his stellar plays earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the week for the period of Nov. 24-29, beating Alaska forward Vic Manuel for the citation.
Against Barako Bull, the six-foot Cruz banged in 23 points, converting eight of his 10 shots to lift power Rain or Shine to a thrilling 110-104 win.
He reprised his role two days later after scoring 16 points, mostly on strong drives to the basket to lead the Elasto Painters past the bigger Barangay Ginebra Kings, 94-86 to book a quarterfinal seat.
More importantly, Rain or Shine is headed for a weeklong break tied for a share of the top spot with Alaska and San Miguel Beer at 6-1.
“Lagi ngang sinasabi ni coach Yeng (Guiao) sa amin na someone has to fill in the gap dahil nga injured si Paul. And ako, it boosts my confidence especially since halong 25 minutes ang binbigay ni coach sa akin so ako, sinusuklian ko lang si coach,” Cruz said.
A noted scorer since his UAAP days, Cruz is thankful he’s got Lee to guide him in his young PBA career as he gets pointers from the former PBA Rookie of the Year during practice and games.
“He’s (Lee) been teaching me a lot on how to play defense and I really learned a lot from him,” he said.
“Kaya sa kanya ako kumukuha ng tips.”
Rain or Shine won’t return to action till Sunday when it faces powerhouse Talk ‘N Text at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (RD)