Alaska rookie Carl Bryan Cruz’s name may not rank among the big name freshmen in his batch. But Cruz wouldn’t mind that while doing his customary blue-collar work, be it at Alaska or Gilas.
“Every practice, every game, gusto ko i-prove sa kanila na deserving ako rito sa Gilas,” said Cruz, one of the final cuts in the 2017 SEABA Championship. “Gusto ko maipakita sa kanila na pinagtatrabuhan ko yung slot ko.”
Well, Cruz just did that on Friday when he exploded for 22 points to tow Gilas to a 105-101 win over Blackwater in their tuneup match on Friday at the Meralco Gym.
The Alaska rookie fired 11 of the last 18 points of Gilas in the final canto as his clutch shooting proved pivotal as coach Chot Reyes tries to push the young core to its limit without any help from PBA players.
It may be a tune-up game for the young Gilas side’s build-up in the William Jones Cup and only against a young franchise still setting their direction in the PBA, but Cruz doesn’t mind the timing of his stellar performance.
“Every time naman ganun mindset ko eh, palaging positive lang ako, aggressive lang ako lalo na sa offense na tinatakbo namin,” he said. “Ready lang ako.”
But he won’t take the credit all by himself, as the former Far Eastern University standout stressed that his game was just a testament on how this group of young Gilas players are slowly embracing Reyes’ dribble drive system.
“Yun yung beauty ng dribble-drive, lagi ako nao-open tsaka yung iba kong teammates. Feeling ko progressing yung team namin every game. Nagi-improve kami individually, tsaka sa depensa nagiimprove kami,” he said.
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