Despite coming off a stellar sophomore year that saw him win his first PBA championship, the Most Improved Player along with the Mr. Quality Minutes award this past season, Rain or Shine guard Jericho Cruz insists he is still hungry for more.
The acquisition of James Yap got his adrenaline going as the six-foot guard out of Adamson admitted learning a lot from the league’s two-time MVP in the brief time they’ve been together.
“I call him (Yap) Manong eh. And having James in our team is really nice. We can learn a lot from him because he’s a legend now and, I’m getting my notebook ready,” Cruz told FOX Sports on Saturday as the Elasto Painters take the time out in Anvaya Cove in Batangas for its team building.
Although Cruz and Yap play differently, the 26-year-old incoming third-year pro enjoys picking the brains of the former Star Hotshots franchise player.
“I’ve been learning a lot from him in practice, been asking him a lot of questions on what I need to do on this or that para makuha ko as much as possible yang experience niya dati,” he added.
Cruz said the recent roster shake-up, along with the eventual departure of coach Yeng Guiao to NLEX did not affect the team’s chemistry.
In fact, under Caloy Garcia, who was elected to the head coaching post, Cruz feels they will thrive, especially since the soft-spoken Rain or Shine mentor introduced some new plays in preparation for the brand new season.
“We’ve been doing good with coach Caloy. Our system is pretty much still the same like that with coach Yeng. May in-add lang si coach Caloy na sarili niyang plays,” he said.
Facing Guiao come the Philippine Cup may be weird, but Cruz jokingly said he’d rather stay in one corner during dead ball, lest he get scolded by the NLEX’s new mentor.
“Siguro it’s gonna be weird because my years in the PBA, I was with coach Yeng so siguro dun na lang ako sa kabilang bench kasi baka mamura ako ni coach Yeng saka baka ano pa masab sa akin,” Cruz said, before bursting into a hearty laugh.
The energetic Rain or Shine guard jacked up his stats across the board this past season after averaging 12.49 points off the bench, 3.19 rebounds and 2.04 assists in 53 games.
“Basta ako, I’ll just gonna keep working hard, just go forward and try to help and complement the veterans like James and Jeff. And I will do my best to win the championship again this coming All-Filipino and try to be aggressive,” he said. – Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava