MANILA, Philippines – Alaska did a stellar defensive job on Terrence Jones to drag TNT to a do-or-die quarterfinals duel, and Carl Bryan Cruz played a crucial role in helping limit the dominant import.
Cruz and the Aces held Jones – the Best Import frontrunner – to 19 points and 6 rebounds against 7 turnovers as they cruised to a 108-72 blowout win in the PBA Commissioner's Cup on Sunday, July 21.
It was Jones' second lowest scoring and lowest rebounding outputs in the conference after averaging 33.7 points and 16.1 rebounds in the elimination round.
"He's an NBA player so I'm energized to guard him. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And it's an honor for me to guard him," Cruz said of Jones in Filipino.
"He's the best import in this league. I will do it all for my team."
Cruz pestered Jones so much that he baited him to commit a flagrant foul penalty 1 just as the game was heading into the final quarter.
Getting under Jones' skin, Cruz got pushed on the chest and grimaced in pain on the floor as the referees whistled for a flagrant 1.
Jones never returned with Alaska only needing to formalize their victory in the final 12 minutes.
"I didn't know why he pushed me. I was just surprised. It was a strong push. It hurt," added Cruz, who also made an impact on offense with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Cruz, though, knows Jones will be back with a vengeance as the No. 1 TNT seeks to avoid another upset from No. 8 Alaska when they clash in a knockout match at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, July 24. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.