Jericho still adjusting after long layoff
Rain or Shine rookie Jericho Cruz returned to action last week to help the Elasto Painters’ ongoing campaign in the Philippine Basketball Association’s Governor’s Cup after nearly a three-month layoff.
The former CNMI national player and Marianas High School alumnus injured his left foot in the Philippine Cup. He was attempting a baseline drive when he heard his foot pop in the Painters’ 100-90 win over crowd darling Barangay Ginebra last Dec. 7.
The former Adamson Falcon, who played his first match against Blackwater Elite this conference, said that it was a bit like his PBA debut as he is still getting a feel of things after being out for almost three months.
He played for nine minutes in ROS’ 102-98 win over Blackwater last Friday and he finished with 4 points on a 1-of-3 shooting from the floor, two free throws, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal.
Cruz, in the Painters’ 119-99 crushing of boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao’s Kia Carnival last Sunday, also scored 4 points on a 2-for-5 field goal shooting with 3 rebounds and 2 turnovers in nine minutes on the floor.
“I feel really tired playing for close to 10 minutes in both games. I’m still feeling my way again, getting my rhythm in the game. I don’t want to force myself since I just came from injury,” Cruz told Saipan Tribune.
“I’m getting better now and I’m continuously doing therapy. I’m still trying to get my timing. I know I will play better in the next few games,” he added.
The Painters’ victories over Blackwater and Kia were part of a three-game winning streak, that included an 82-79 decision over Barangay Ginebra, after suffering a 129-114 crushing from San Miguel Beer on March 13.
He said that he could have made his return earlier, against San Miguel, but the team’s medical staff prevented him from suiting up in order to not to reinjure his foot.
Cruz returned to practice with the Painters in the middle of February.
Cruz, a few days before suffering a fracture on his foot against Ginebra last year, had a breakout game where he helped ROS in pulling off a 98-95 come-from-behind win over Alaska. He scored 10 in the fourth including the Painters’ last 4 points.
Rain or Shine clinched the top ranking in the PBA’s second conference, which allows teams to have one foreign player, heading in to the playoff round.