MANILA, Philippines – Jericho Cruz admittedly lost sleep following what he considers his worst game in the PBA Philippine Cup.
But the gutsy guard redeemed himself in a big way and helped San Miguel move within a win of the All-Filipino title series following an 89-78 win over Meralco in Game 5 of their best-of-seven semifinals on Friday, August 12.
Cruz churned out a semifinals-high 17 points on top of 4 rebounds and 2 steals, including 9 points in the third quarter that allowed the Beermen to pull away.
“My performance last game did not let me sleep,” Cruz, whose two-point outing in Game 4 is his lowest of the conference, said in Filipino. “I can say that is probably my worst game of the whole season.”
Before Game 4, Cruz averaged 15.6 points this conference and scored in single digits only once – a nine-point showing in Game 1 against the Bolts.
It did not take long, though, for the eight-year veteran to regain his form as he topped the game in plus-minus with +19.
“My mindset coming into this game was to be me, play the way I usually play, and keep my confidence,” Cruz said.
While Cruz rediscovered his scoring ways, he said it is on the defensive end where he wants to leave a bigger mark as he tries to contain the Meralco guards, particularly Allein Maliksi.
Maliksi went on a three-point spree in the second quarter and dropped 9 points in the period – all from beyond the arc – but struggled in the second half as he finished with 12 points.
“We all know we have a lot of scorers in the team. My mindset coming into this game was to stop the guys that are scoring from the other team, which is Maliksi.”
“If I can stop him, then we can limit their overall play.”
San Miguel goes for the kill in Game 6 on Sunday, August 14, at the Araneta Coliseum, as it eyes its first finals appearance in three years. – Rappler.com