Jericho switches jerseys for Asia Cup

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Jericho switches jerseys for Asia Cup
Jericho Cruz.
PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines —  San Miguel Beer’s Jericho Cruz is on a high as he serves national team duties with Guam on the heels of the Beermen’s PBA Commissioner’s Cup championship.

Cruz, a Fil-Guamanian, hopes to help Guam to victories in a pair of road assignments in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers against powerhouse Japan (Feb. 22) and Mongolia (Feb. 25).

“Ang sarap umalis ng bansa na panalo,” said the rugged guard, who was the hero of the Beermen’s go-ahead 108-98 Game 5 win over Magnolia and hit a crucial triple in heat of SMB’s fightback in the 104-102 Game 6 clincher.

“Kasi ang mindset ko, kapag natalo kami, ayaw kong pumunta eh. Parang ayaw ko maglaro sa Guam kapag natalo kami. Ayun, since nanalo kami, naka-ready na ang ticket ko for Guam,” he added.

Cruz is the third SMB mainstay booked for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. Top guns June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez are part of Tim Cone’s Gilas Pilipinas 12 in next week’s Group B matches against host Hong Kong and visiting Chinese Taipei.

Cruz was instrumental in getting Guam a ticket to the main qualifying tournament for the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup.

The three-time PBA champion averaged 13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists as Guam posted a 5-0 win-loss card in the two-round pre-qualifiers to earn its spot in Group C of the final qualifiers versus Japan, Mongolia and China.

Cruz said he’s bringing his family along on this trip to Tokyo and Ulaanbaatar. A long-planned visit to his mother in the US will follow, which will make him unavailable for SMB’s early assignment in the Philippine Cup.

“Nagpaalam ako kila Boss Al (San Miguel Corp. sports director Alfrancis Chua), Boss Robert (Non, SMB team governor), after ng Guam stint ko, bibisitahin ko ang mommy ko sa States. Balik ko mga March 11 or 12. Magmi-miss ako ng one game. Nagpaalam ako, pinayagan naman ako,” he said.

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