Manila, Philippines – Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao is blessed to have certified stars at his disposal.
He can design plays for Gilas Pilipinas mainstays Jeff Chan and Gabe Norwood at any given time or let playmaker par excellence Paul Lee decide what play to call at crunch time.
The do-it-all guard can shoot the lights out with his devastating mix of jumpers or he can go straight to the basket for the “showtime”.
But that’s not always the case for Guiao because the team now has also a slew of role players who can also make a difference.
One of them is forward Jervy Cruz.
The 6-foot-4 Cruz is no doubt one of the most underrated players in the league, but when he’s hot, he can turn into a “King Tiger” that he was once known and feared by almost everybody during his college days at University of Santo Tomas.
Ferocious as a wounded Tiger, Cruz helped power the Painters to a 99-95 overtime win over the Petron Blaze Boosters.
Aside from leading the team in scoring with 23 points, Cruz hauled down 12 rebounds – seven of them offensively – as the Painters snapped a two-game skid for a 5-3 win-loss card.
More than improving their record, the Painters distinguished themselves as the first squad to hand the Boosters their first defeat in eight games, thanks largely to Cruz’s awesome performance.
“Jervy’s star is rising, he can really make a difference,” said co-team owner Raymond Yu. “He’s one of the X-factors of the team.”
“Tahimik lang na player pero parang kidlat sa ilalim. It’s not easy to get seven offensive rebounds,” added the amiable Terry Que, the team’s other owner. “I will not be surprised if he earns another award at the end of the season.
Winner of the Mr. Quality Minutes award in the recent PBA Press Corps Awards Night, Cruz credited his fine performance the last time to Guiao and his teammates for letting him involved in the flow of everything and to his family, especially his wife, Catherine, and son, Daniel.