By Adrian Stewart Co
NLEX Road Warriors guard Jericho Cruz is looking forward to play in the country as part of the Guam national team in the February window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Clark, Pampanga.
The Iloilo City-native said he is delighted that the matches of Guam will be held in the same bubble where the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup conducted its matches late last year.
“To be in the Philippines, sobrang happy since my family is here. Madali na kasi I don’t have to go out of the country. It’s more convenient para sa akin,” Cruz said in an interview with Tiebreaker Times.
“Alam na rin nila siguro ‘yung feeling ng bubble. Some of them play in Australia and Europe,” he added. “Ang masasabi ko lang is we have to be tough mentally since we will be away from our family, and [to] just enjoy the moment and the experience.”
The Filipino-Northern Mariana Islander Cruz made his debut for Guam on February 2020 where he tallied four points, four rebounds, and five assists in their 94-113’s loss to New Zealand.
Come the Pampanga bubble, Guam will have a tough schedule as they take on Hong Kong on the 17th, Australia on the 18th, Hong Kong again on the 19th, New Zealand on the 21st, and then Australia again on the 22nd.
“Para sa akin, I’m excited to play against other countries. I’ve experienced playing against them during my amateur years but not when I was a pro, hindi pa masyado,” Cruz said.
“I’m excited to play and at the same time excited to learn dahil nakalaban ko sila,” the Ilonggo added. “Baka madala ko ‘yung experience na ‘yun sa All-Filipino Conference ng PBA.”
The 30-year-old Cruz is not new to representing Guam after playing for the Northern Mariana Islands in the 2009 FIBA Oceania Tournament in Saipan and the 2010 Micronesian Games in Palau.
Cruz also played for the Philippines during his collegiate years as he was part of the Sinag Pilipinas team that won the gold medal in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar./ASC, WDJ