By ADRIAN STEWART CO
NLEX Road Warriors guard Jericho Cruz relished the opportunity to play for the Guam national team in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers to be held next month in Clark, Pampanga.
The Iloilo City-native Cruz said he is learning a lot under the tutelage of Guam national team head coach Phil Handy that can be useful when he returns to the Road Warriors in PBA.
“I’m learning a lot from Coach Phil Handy, he is an assistant coach for the (Los Angeles) Lakers,” Cruz said. “To be honest it’s a great learning experience for me, the small details of the game and how to be a winner on and off the court.”
“The experience of playing international basketball, that’s one thing I truly cherish,” added the 6-foot-2 Cruz, who has been in the United States for two months to train with the Guam national team.
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 first played for Guam national team in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifier when they suffered a 113-94 loss to New Zealand in February 2020 where he tallied four points, four rebounds, and five assists.
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.
Come the Pampanga bubble, Guam will have a tough schedule as they take on Hong Kong consecutively on June 16 and 18 before facing Australia, New Zealand and Australia again.
“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.”/ASC, WDJ