Despite feeling the nerves, Cruz lauds fellow Aces for explosive debut

By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--Carl Cruz admitted to Dugout Philippines that he felt nervous in his PBA debut for Alaska on Friday night.

"Noong unang pasok ko, kinakabahan pa ako kasi wala pa akong experience," Cruz specifically said after his maiden pro stint at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

But the rookie jitters were apparently waved off during the second quarter, when he drilled in 12 of his 20 total points, and he has his fellow Aces to thank for.

"Buti maganda yung mga pasahan namin, so nakakakuha ako ng mga open looks. Swerte rin talaga," Cruz continued.

He even said that it has been the case since his first practices with Alaska.

"Yung mga veterans ang nag-ga-guide sa akin, sina Calvin [Abueva], Vic [Manuel], Kuya Dondon [Hontiveros], Jaypee [Mendoza], at RJ [Jazul]. Good mentors sila para sa akin," Cruz further uttered.

But it was the 6-foot-5 forward's three-point shooting that was more glaring, burying four treys and had more of those than inside-the-arc shots (two).

"[Stretch-4] talaga ang laro ko since sa D-League. Sabi nga ni Coach Alex [Compton], 'Magfi-fit ako sa team,'" Cruz further said.

Compton himself confirmed to Dugout Philippines what he told Cruz.

"He fits right into our system. He shot the ball really well today and made plays within our system, and the thing that impressed me the most was 14 rebounds in 26 minutes. [Having] 20 and 14 is a great debut," he specifically said.

However, Cruz's impressive debut came into naught as NLEX slowly turned the tides in the second half and overtime to subdue Alaska, 99-97.

"Bryan fouling out was a big loss as [he was one of the] guys [who] were the best players on the floor today," Compton lamented.

For his reaction, Cruz said, "Sayang! OK na sana yung nilalaro [namin], kaya lang biglang natalo pa. Pero ganoon talaga. Bilog ang bola. Looking forward naman kami."

As his PBA journey continues, Cruz said in conclusion, "One game at a time lang ako. Ibibigay ko yung makakaya ko para manalo."

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