Love him or hate him, Cruz is all about the winning business

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Jericho Cruz is aware of the mixed reactions that comes with having an on-court persona loved by the San Miguel Beer faithful and loathed by rival fans.

“I’m used to haters,” Cruz said in Filipino after his vital contribution in the Beermen’s title-clinching win over the Magnolia Hotshots in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Wednesday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum. “At the end of the day, they are not the ones feeding my family.”

Cruz is one of several polarizing figures in the league, given the swagger that he has shown ever since he arrived in 2014 as the first round pick of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.

That reputation also cost Cruz a one-game suspension during the recent Finals series after he was slapped a technical foul in Game 3 for taunting Magnolia’s Calvin Abueva by flashing his tongue after a made three-point basket that resulted in a technical foul.

It was the fifth technical for Cruz in the conference, which under PBA rules merits an automatic one-game ban.

He did make up for that by going for a career-high 30 points in a critical Game 5 win that broke a 2-2 tie. And then Cruz bucked his shooting struggles by knocking key threes during the Beermen’s searing rally in Game 6 that finished off the Hotshots.

Everything’s cool

Cruz and Abueva eventually shared congratulatory gestures after Magnolia returned to the court to receive its runner-up trophy, a sign that everything’s cool between both players.

“You always see us and Calvin like that, but we’re friends outside the court,” he said. “Like what I said during the press conference before the Finals, it’s pure business and nothing personal.”

There’s still some business Cruz has to deal with, which is to represent Guam in this month’s Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup Qualifiers window which will see him lead the island nation opposite Japan and Mongolia in Tokyo and Ulaanbaatar on Feb. 22 and Feb. 25, respectively.

And then, it will be some rest and relaxation for Cruz when he flies to the United States to visit his mother.



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After that, the wily guard will still have some time to savor the championship feeling by the time he returns home for San Miguel’s latest mission.

And it would be weird if someone hates him for that.





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