Fully-recovered Jervy Cruz set to return for Ginebra in Philippine Cup

Veteran forward Jervy Cruz is eager to get back to action after missing the entire 2018 PBA Governors' Cup due to bone spurs on his left foot.

The 32-year-old Cruz admitted he felt bad when the Kings failed to defend their Governors' Cup crown for a second straight season after losing to long-time rivals Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots in their semifinal duel.

But he has since used that as a motivation for him to get back into shape in the hope of contributing immediately for Ginebra off the bench.

"Actually, the doctor told me my recovery period is about three months. But after two months, I was given the go-signal to start my physical activity so I started jogging, did a lot of strengthening and joined practice with the team by November," Cruz told ESPN5 on Thursday.

But the former University of Santo Tomas "King" Tiger said coach Tim Cone didn't deem it necessary for him to rejoin the team in the playoffs, opting to let him get back to shape after being out for several months.

Cruz then took it upon himself to work extra hard during the offseason. He also worked on his perimeter shooting, while jogging inside the University of Santo Tomas campus as he lives within the Sampaloc area in Manila.

Cruz saw action in Ginebra's 91-86 win over Phoenix Pulse in their tune-up match Thursday at the Upper Deck gym in Ortigas, Pasig.

"Whatever I can do to help the team, I will do it and I'm willing to double my effort because I haven't won a championship in the All-Filipino (conference)," said the 6-foot-4 Ginebra backup forward, whose four PBA titles as a player were all won in import conferences.

Although San Miguel is the favorite once again to rule the Philippine Cup for a precedent-smashing fifth straight time, Cruz said Ginebra will use its unsuccessful Governors' Cup title defense as motivation to bounce back strong in the 2019 season.

"Everyone was sad when we failed to defend our crown because a lot of people expected us to win last conference, but like coach Tim always reminds us, we all need to focus," he said.

Ginebra reached the Philippine Cup Finals in the 2017 season, before eventually bowing to San Miguel, 4-1 in the title series. The Kings take on the TNT KaTropa in the opening game of the 2019 season on January 13 at the Philippine Arena.