Blackwater forward Carl Bryan Cruz feels right at home with his new PBA team.
Cruz, who was traded Thursday by Alaska to Blackwater for rookie Abu Tratter, admits the move came as a surprise. He acknowledges, though, that being traded is part of life in the PBA. The sweet-shooting Cruz though is also glad to be welcomed with open arms by familiar faces from his Far Eastern University days.
"I'm happy with my new team because almost everyone is familiar to me," Cruz told ESPN 5 on Saturday. "I've also played Mac Belo and Raymar Jose, while coach Gilbert Lao was my former [assistant] coach back at FEU also."
With the Elite, Cruz is expected to provide additional 3-point shooting along with interior defense and rebounding.
"Coach Aris [Dimaunahan] told me that he wants me to serve like a Stretch 4 to the team," Cruz said. "He said that's the reason why they got me because they believe I can fit the team's system."
Dimaunahan describes Cruz, 28, as a "heady player". The Blackwater mentor also believes Cruz is a good floor spacer, given his ability to knock down outside shots.
"He understands the game well and he could also be one of those guys who could spread the floor for us in our offense and works very hard on the rebounding department," Dimaunahan said.
The 6-foot-4 Cruz, acquired by Alaska during the special draft for Gilas cadets in 2016, is impressed with the Blackwater roster that includes rookie Bobby Ray Parks and Belo.
"We have Allein Maliksi, Ray-Ray, Mac Belo and then we have Mike DiGregorio and Roi Sumang at the guard spots. It's actually a complete and talented team," Cruz said.
The former FEU Tamaraw averaged 5.36 points, 2.64 rebounds and 0.55 assists. He also shot 34 percent from 3-point range with the Aces in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Cruz will have his first taste of action when the Elite compete in Macau for the East Asia Super League Terrific 12 starting on Sept. 17.
The Terrific 12 will feature top Asian teams from China, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Blackwater joins San Miguel and TNT as the PBA representatives.