Bong dela Cruz moves on from controversial split with UST, joins SLR in PCBL

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A familiar figure is keen on helping Sta. Lucia on its title drive in the 2016 PCBL Chairman’s Cup.

Outgoing University of Santo Tomas mentor Bong Dela Cruz has already linked up with the Realtors as an assistant to newly-appointed coach Ogie Gumatay, hoping he could provide fresher insight amidst the team’s latest struggle.

More than four months removed from the Growling Tigers’ runner-up finish in the UAAP Season 78 men’s basketball tourney, Dela Cruz has started acting as deputy to Gumatay, a former pro league cager who took over the coaching spot from Bonni Garcia last week.

“Gusto ko lang makatulong sa kanila at nilapitan rin kasi ako ni Boss Buddy,” Dela Cruz told FOX Sports in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon, referring to Buddy Encarnado, the former Sta. Lucia governor in the pro ranks who is now serving as chairman of the fledging inter-commercial league.

“Matagal na rin naman tayong kilala ni Boss at tao niya rin naman ako matagal na,” added Dela Cruz, who also played for an RP Youth team managed by Encarnado in the 80s.

While his existing contract with UST will formally end on May 31, Dela Cruz added he remains involved in coaching as he continues to call the shots for La Consolacion College-Manila men’s basketball team.

Dela Cruz was given a fitting debut by the Realtors during an 80-76 victory over the Supremo Lex Builders last Friday at the Marikina Sports Center.

But Dela Cruz and Sta. Lucia failed to overcome powerhouse Mighty Sports 85-92 two days after at the Malolos Sports and Convention Center, causing the Realtors to drop to fifth spot with a 5-6 record.

“Gusto ko mag-enjoy kung ano man ang pinagkakaabalahan ko ngayon,” said Dela Cruz, who found himself in the eye of the storm following several allegations of player abuse and game-fixing after UST lost to eventual champion Far Eastern U in their three-game titular showdown last December. – By Jerome Lagunzad

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