Tapping Jericho Cruz ‘excellent’ opportunity for Guam
MANILA, Philippines–Tapping Jericho Cruz for the Guam men’s national basketball team didn’t really require much thinking according to national coach EJ Calvo.
“I’ve known Jericho since he was a high school standout in the nearby island of Saipan,” he told the Inquirer in an e-mail.
“I’ve been proud of success since he relocated to the Philippines to play college ball and eventually, the PBA.”
Cruz got Guam’s national team call-up when the FIBA Asia Cup announced the US territory’s 24-man pool for 2021 qualifying games on Wednesday morning.
“We have known that he is eligible under FIBA rules to play for Guam and we agreed to register him a couple of years ago,” said Calvo.
Calvo, also Guam’s President of Basketball Confederation, said Cruz’s PBA experience has made the Filipino cager an “excellent player.”
Which opens an opportune moment for Cruz, Guam, and even the PBA.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for us and we believe that his Fiba exposure will attract thousands of fans to his NLEX team and the PBA in general,” he added.
Cruz, a Pasig City native, served the Northern Mariana Islands’ youth team in the past before returning to the Philippines. He then attended Rizal Technological and then eventually Adamson.
He was picked 9th overall in the 2014 PBA draft and was a member of the Yeng Guiao-led Rain or Shine squad that won the Commissioner’s Cup crown in 2016.
Cruz now shares backcourt duties with Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas for the Road Warriors.
Calvo, meanwhile, stressed that details of Cruz’s participation are yet to be finalized.
“We are coordinating with NLEX management to prepare for this FIBA window prior to the start of the PBA season,“ he said.
Guam is drawn with Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, and is set to play a pair of games on Feb. 20 and 23.
The PBA is tentatively set to open in the first week of March.