April 14, 2024

PBA: Jericho Cruz on cloud nine after 30-point outing vs. Magnolia in Game 5

PBA: Jericho Cruz on cloud nine after 30-point outing vs. Magnolia in Game 5
Photo (c) Sherwin Vardeleon

Jericho Cruz checked in for CJ Perez with over four minutes remaining in the opening period of San Miguel's Game Five tussle against Magnolia in the PBA season 48 Commissioner's Cup finale.

 Seven seconds later, Marcio Lassiter found Cruz open in the right wing and he swished a triple right away.

That set the tone for the former Adamson star, who fired a career-tying 30 points anchored on eight three-pointers as the Beermen trumped the Hotshots, 108-98, to regain a 3-2 series edge Sunday night.

“Ibinibigay talaga nila 'yung labas, eh. So kailangan ko talagang i-hit 'yun. Kasi kung hindi, sisikip ang game namin,” said Cruz during the post-game prsser at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

“I’ve been working on it in practice. Once i-kick out sa akin, talagang ititira ko. It’s more of being confident lang," he added.

[RELATED STORY: PBA: Jericho Cruz, Simon Enciso catch fire, push San Miguel on verge of 29th title in Game 5]

That confidence spilled over to the final stretch of the match, where he knocked down two more triples that allowed the Beermen to move a win away from a record-extending 29th crown.

The first of those crucial treys gave the Beermen a 97-87 lead with 4:11 left to play. The Hotshots refused to fold, though, as import Tyler Bey scored on a two-handed flush off a steal to close in, 99-94, with 90 seconds on the clock.

Cruz's hot hands dashed any hopes from the Magnolia side as he drilled in another triple to bury the Hotshots for good, 102-96, in a pulsating finish for the match which also saw Simon Enciso drop five long bombs on his way to 15 points.

“Once we’re given a chance to play, we just have to provide,” he said.

 

Cruz admitted he was still on cloud nine when he faced reporters at the end of the match.

But he was also quick to remind himself to be wary of a Magnolia fightback come Game Six on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the same venue.

“Hindi ako makasalita kasi I’m so happy na maganda ang nilaro ko tapos panalo. Nasa ere pa ako ngayon,” he said. 

“But the job is not finished yet. Back to the drawing board.”