Playing for three major international basketball tournaments in two months may be physically draining, but not for Alaska rookie and Gilas cadet Carl Bryan Cruz.
Fresh off a stint in the William Jones Cup where Gilas placed fourth, the 6-4 Cruz has been included in the FIBA Asia Cup scheduled to start this August 8 in Beirut, Lebanon before heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as the national team defends its Southeast Asian Games men’s basketball crown on August 20.
“Sa akin wala namang problem yun eh kasi kung sa Jones Cup, 9 games in 9 days di ako umurong eh, so dito pa sa tournament na (mga) ito,” Cruz told FOX Sports, referring to FIBA Asia Cup and SEA Games.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes explained Cruz and Fil-German big man Christian Standhardinger might not be able to make it in the national team’s opening game in the SEA Games against Thailand. But that’s granting Gilas makes it all the way to the FIBA Asia Cup championship round.
Still, the former Far Eastern University banger said it wouldn’t really matter if he’ll have to quickly fly to Kuala Lumpur to shift gear and help the country defend its SEA Games cage title.
“Sa akin bibihira lang itong opportunity dumating, then you represent the country pa so di ko na iindahin yung pagod at problem, basta ma-represent mo lang and bansa,” he stressed.
Gilas is bracketed in Group B with Asian powerhouse China, Qatar and Iraq.
Ranged against China in the opening day of the Lebanon joust, Cruz believes the national side has a fighting chance despite the Chinese’s expected tall front court.
“Kakasabi lang ni coach Chot na may dalawa silang (Chinese) seven-footers saka isang 6-11,” shared Cruz. “Kung titingnan mo talaga, undersized tayo pero dahil sa sistema ni coach Chot na dribble drive, tingin ko may advantage tayo.”
The 25-year-old, young stretch four said he’s currently taking 500 attempts from the three-point zone in practice as he prepares himself for the two, big international tournaments this August.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava