MANILA, Philippines – After fitting in seamlessly with his new team, the TNT KaTropa, versatile guard Jericho Cruz has earned PBA Press Corps Player of the Week honors for the period of February 26 to March 4.
Traded by Rain or Shine to TNT in exchange for rookie Sidney Onwubere, Kris Rosales and a 2018 first-round pick, Cruz was quick to prove that he is an asset for his new team by averaging 17 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals in their two wins over NLEX and Phoenix last week.
In a must-win game against NLEX in their last game of the elimination round, Cruz turned in an explosive debut for TNT as he fired 17 points to go along with four assists, three rebounds, and two steals. The KaTropa went on to win, 101-75.
Phoenix's narrow 104-100 win over GlobalPort and Ginebra’s thrilling 100-92 triple-overtime triumph against Rain or Shine last Friday knocked Blackwater out of the playoff race, while setting up the KaTropa to a do-or-die duel with the Fuel Masters for the eighth and last playoff berth.
TNT showed its readiness for the playoffs with Cruz collaborating with teammates Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario as the Katropa demolished Phoenix, 118-97, on Sunday in their knockout match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Cruz, the 2016 PBA Most Improved Player, stuffed up the stats sheet with 17 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block as TNT sealed the eighth and final playoff berth.
The 27-year-old Cruz beat his TNT teammates Castro, Rosario and Kelly Williams as well as Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar for the weekly citation.
TNT's road to the all-Filipino championship though won't be easy as it faces defending three-time Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Beeermen, who finished the elims with an 8-3, enjoy a twice-to-beat advantage against the Katropa.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.