BREAKOUT CONFERENCE FOR CRUZ
JERVY Cruz is steadily carving for himself a breakout tournament.
The hardworking power forward re-booked a new career-high, in the process leading Rain or Shine to a big confidence-builder and earning for himself the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the period Dec. 3 to 9.
It was the second such citation for Cruz, who was similarly feted in the week spanning Oct. 15-21, and he again earned the scribes’ nod following another scintillating Philippine Cup game last Friday.
In a cruising 116-101 victory over Barako Bull, Cruz led the Elasto Painters’ charge with 23 points to better by one his previous career-best set Oct. 20, when he also had another pro milestone with 18 boards.
“I’m not actually surprised about him reaping his second Player of the Week award. He’s been working very hard and he’s been very consistent,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“He’s been steadily asserting himself as our best scoring big man, as of now. He also knows that his role in our team is to provide scoring when open, but really to defend and get those rebounds. Him having a good scoring night is a bonus,” added Guiao.
The victory, its ninth in 14 elimination games, hardly mattered for Rain or Shine since it has the better quotient should it be tied and would still cop the No. 3 spot going to the quarterfinals.
But it was one the E-Painters sorely wanted to snap out of back-to-back losses and boost their confidence going to the next round.
That’s where Cruz came in.
The former University of Santo Tomas star and 2009 All-Rookie Team member went 10-for-17 from the field and canned all his three free throw attempts. He added four rebounds, an assist and a steal in 27 minutes of action.
Cruz’s latest numbers jacked his conference averages to almost 12.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Not bad at all for a man who has not gone beyond 6.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in his first three years as a pro.
The current numbers and overall work ethics of the power forward, undersized at just 6-foot-3, also impress Guiao.
“I know I can rely on him. I had my doubts before about him being effective in his position but now those doubts have ceased to exist,” stated Guiao.
Cruz beat out the likes of teammate Jonathan Uyloan, who scored a career-high 18 points in that Barako game, and Cyrus Baguio, Alaska’s spearhead in a come-from-behind 79-71 victory over Petron Blaze last Wednesday.
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