Rain or Shine guard Jericho Cruz is expected to play against San Miguel Beer in the crucial Game 5 of their semifinal series in the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-1 guard suffered a hyper-extended left knee late in Game 3 and had to be carried out on a stretcher before he was rushed at the Cardinal Santos Hospital in San Juan last Saturday.
Cruz, however, surprised many PBA fans when the sophomore two guard from Adamson University showed up for Game 4 as he participated at the shooting drill warm up.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao opted not to risk aggravating the injury.
With the best-of-seven Final Four showdown tied at 2-2 after the Beermen won Game 4 105-92, Guiao – still struggling with a hoarse voice he started experiencing last game – is said to be happy with the way Cruz performed during practice session yesterday at the North East Green Hills gym in San Juan.
“Napapa-tawa nga si coach Yeng sa pina-kitang ensayo ni Jericho e, talagang pinatunayan nya na ready sya to play,” said the team’s Physical Therapist JD Calinawan.
“May pain pa din, lalo kung naha-hyper-extend, pero hindi na kagaya nung una (Game 3). The day after kasi na mangyari, talagang hindi pa din sya maka-tayo e,” added Calinawan.
MRI test showed no damage on Cruz’s ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or tear on the meniscal. However, he has mild sprain on the PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and minimal bone contusion.
Cruz, who averages 12.62 points, 3.06 rebounds and 2.31 assists this conference, plays a big part in the backcourt rotation of Guiao, who described the former as one of the best “finishers” on the RoS team.
While it’s a go for Cruz, the Elasto Painters are expected to continue to miss the services of third year center Raymond Almazan, who is nursing a sprained right ankle he sustained in the team’s practice session last Friday.