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Dela Cruz declares for PBA Draft

FilOil Flying V Sports
By Ivan Saldajeno

SAN JUAN, MM--After two impressive performances in three days, Arth Dela Cruz popped out the huge announcement.

"It's about time na sabihin ko na I'm going to the draft this PBA [season]," the San Beda and Hapee forward announced on Saturday following a near triple-double in his college team's FilOil Flying V Preseason Premier Cup win against UE.

Two days after going for 18 points and nine rebounds for the Fresh Fighters in the PBA D-League quarterfinals win, the son of PBA legend Art Dela Cruz completed the double-double for the Red Lions as he made 17 points and 12 rebounds. What made his Saturday game a better one than the Thursday match was that he dished six assists.

"He is a point forward. He plays 1, 2, 3, or 4. I told the guards, 'If you get in trouble, just pass the ball to Arth,'" San Beda coach Jamike Jarin described the graduating Dela Cruz's role with his team.

Jarin even likened Dela Cruz's game to NBA legend Larry Bird.

"Larry Bird didn't have to score that much to make it to the Hall of Fame. Arth Dela Cruz is like Larry Bird. He thinks beyond the next two plays," the coach compared Dela Cruz and Bird.

Asked about the reminders Jarin and Hapee coach Ronnie Magsanoc are giving to him, Dela Cruz answered, "Do my thing. Gawin ko lang ang mga ginagawa ko, especially sa offensive. Pinapayuhan ako na huwag lang offensive ang tignan, kundi defensive din. Binibigyan nila ako ng tamang payo."

As a testament to his defensive prowess, Dela Cruz made four steals on Thursday and one block on Saturday.

Dela Cruz lauded his coaches for making him who he is as a basketball player now.

"Binibigyan ko ng credit sina [Coach Jamike and Coach Ronnie] kasi hindi naman ako magiging ganito kung hindi nila ako binibigyan ng kumpiyansa sa sarili," Dela Cruz expressed his gratitude.

He also said that he will be happy if he gets selected to the first round in the draft where Roi Sumang, Chris Newsome, and Moala Tautuaa are among the big names.