Jericho Cruz battles through flu to deliver for Rain or Shine
MANILA, Philippines – Rain or Shine guard Jericho Cruz battled not just the Phoenix defenders, but his own illness, when he led the Elasto Painters to a crucial 97-92 victory over the Fuel Masters on Sunday at the Big Dome.
The guard did not disclose it at the start of the game but revealed afterwards that he is struggling with flu-like symptoms, and had been sick for four days ahead of their game.
"Coming into this game, 'di ko ine-expect na bibigay ako ni Coach Caloy (Garcia) ng playing time kasi I was sick," he revealed. "Pero ayun, 'yung trust niya sa akin ay nandoon, kaya siguro pinag-laro niya ako."
Cruz repaid his coach's trust handsomely. As part of Rain or Shine's explosive second unit, Cruz was instrumental in giving his team a 53-45 halftime lead. After Phoenix trimmed what was once a 21-point lead to just nine in the fourth quarter, he single-handedly put them away.
More known as a slasher than a shooter, Cruz fired three consecutive triples in the span of a minute to turn a nine-point lead into a 90-74 advantage with just over four minutes left, and the Fuel Masters never recovered.
"Siguro may time na nagulat, pero kasi, araw-araw naming pina-practice ang shooting," Cruz said of his three-pointers. "It's my first time siguro nga na ganoon sa PBA. I'm happy and excited at the same time, pero 'yun nga – work harder pa rin. Magawa ko ulit sana."