MANILA, Philippines – Alaska forward Carl Bryan Cruz earned a "special shout-out" from his coach after his performance in Game 3 of the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup finals against the Magnolia Hotshots on Sunday evening.
Cruz's minutes took a hit in the season-ending conference, and in the elimination round he played in just one game.
"You know, in a conference like this, it's always tough for bigs, because you got (import) Mike Harris usually playing 40 minutes a game," Alaska coach Alex Compton explained.
Yet his lack of playing time did not stop Cruz from working, the coach noted.
"He's done the work all year," Compton bared. "Bryan's been active in practice, listening, asking questions, working hard."
That hard work paid off in Game 3, when Cruz keyed Alaska's breakaway in the second quarter. He had seven points in the frame, as the Aces built a 50-36 halftime advantage. He capped his performance by drilling a triple late in the third quarter that gave Alaska a 30-point lead, 79-49.
He finished with 10 points, a rebound, and an assists in 15 minutes of action.
Compton was full of praise for the former Far Eastern University player after the game.
"Special shout-out to Bryan Cruz," said the coach. "I'm really happy for him to get this kind of reward of just playing so well. He did a great job, I'm really happy for him and I'm proud of him."
Cruz, for his part, was thrilled just to have contributed to what turned out to be a 100-71 triumph for the Aces – a win that ensured that the best-of-7 series will last until Game 5, at least.
"Napakasaya kasi nabigyan ako ng opportunity na makapaglaro, makapag-deliver ng maayos," said the 27-year-old Cruz.
He admits that waiting on the bench for most of the conference was difficult, but is glad to see that his patience paid off.
"Ang motivation ko lang, stay patient at work hard lang every practice," Cruz said.
More than anything, Cruz is delighted that Alaska is finally on board in the best-of-7 finals series, after dropping the first two games to the Hotshots.
"Nagpag-usapan namin na napaka-crucial nitong Game 3, kasi kapag naunahan kami ng Magnolia, talagang mabigat na sa amin para makabawi," he said.
"Kudos din lagi kay Coach Alex, kasi binibigyan niya kami lagi ng positive mindset."
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