Cortez' dual role vital to Air21 | Inquirer Sports

Cortez’ dual role vital to Air21

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 03:32 PM March 25, 2013

Mike Cortez of Air 21 and Tony Dela Cruz of Alaska battle for the ball At Smart Araneta. FILE PHOTOAUGUST DELA CRUZ

MANILA, Philippines – It’s hard enough to effectively run the point and even tougher to switch from being a playmaker to a scorer.

But not for Mike Cortez, ‘the Cool Cat,’ who has smoothly played his niche for streaking Air21.

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In the Express’ wins over defending PBA Commissioner’s Cup champion San Mig Coffee and GlobalPort, Cortez averaged 13.5 points and 6.0 assists per game while being asked to be a point guard and shooting guard from time to time.

“Right now we are not only asking him to run the team but to score also,” said head coach Franz Pumaren of the 32-year-old Cortez, the first overall pick by Alaska in the 2003 draft. “That’s why once in a while we are using him as a second guard.”

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Cortez made a name for himself in the UAAP as a member of De La Salle University also under Pumaren’s watch and since being reunited with his college coach in a trade, Cortez has been on a tear.

His effectiveness was in full display after posting 13 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals in an 87-82 win over the Mixers before collecting 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists against GlobalPort last Saturday for Air21’s fourth straight win.

Cortez’ all-around game also earned him the Accel-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week (March 18 to 24), besting Barangay Ginebra’s LA Tenorio.

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TAGS: Air21, Manila, Mike Cortez, Philippines It
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