Jun 13, 2022

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In the cold mountainous Antipolo, a returning warrior athlete inspires with a win after an injury that cost him two years off the court. A victory over Rain or Shine in the 2022 Philippine Cup of  PBA held at the Ynares Sports Center served as his strong reentry into the game.  From an injury to tip top shape, Arth Dela Cruz tells of his strong return “Masaya at nakakataas ng confidence. Nakabalik. Ang tagal-tagal din. Nagpapasalamat ako kay coach Pido na hindi niya ako pine-pressure at hinahayaan niya akong laruin ‘yung totoo kong laro,” Dela Cruz thankfully aforementioned. Thanking coach Pido, the league is given a first hand illustration of just how influential and encouraging support from coaches and team members bear fruit on the court. Despite the fact that he has already played on Thursday, Dela Cruz said his minutes will be rather limited in order to avoid re-injury, and head coach Pido Jarencio understands his predicament. A recurrence of any injury of any sort will be a nightmare for any recovering and returning athlete. Peak condition is a top priority for Coach Pido’s plays with Dela Cruz. The returning athlete – confident yet cautious – explains, “Galing lang tayo sa injuries kaya kahit papano, open communication kami. May mga araw na day-off from a long rest kaya hindi maiwasan ang sakit. Part of the job. Kailangan lang maglaro kasi ganun talaga. Medyo veteran na rin ako sa liga. Inaasahan din ako ng team ko,” Dela Cruz was nervous when he played his first game with Ginebra after the Clark bubble, but he quickly recovered his rhythm once he was on the court. Something quite expected from a smart athlete returning from a detrimental setback and injury. “Hindi naman nawala ‘yung kaba. Pero kapag naka-shoot na, naka-baba na, pinawisan na, babalik na ‘yun. Buong buhay mo, naglalaro ka na eh. Sanay ka na sa court. Nagpapractice ka naman. Babalik naman kumpiyansa mo,” Further explaining the healthy anxiety and nerves prior to the match. Dela Cruz scored 10 points, grabbed two rebounds, and dished out two assists in 14 minutes of action in the 94-81 victory, his first game since December 4, 2020, when he scored three points in four minutes in Game Three of the Philippine Cup finals at the Clark Arena.  Dela Cruz, 30, has been struggling with problems since then, first in his Achilles heel in his left foot, then in his left hamstring. Dela Cruz was also traded from Ginebra to NorthPort in November for Sidney Onwubere around that period.  Standing at  6-foot-4, Dela Cruz has been totally recovered since last month and was brought back into the field on Thursday, a valuable moment for the returnee.  “Actually, nakalimutan na ako. Maganda’t nakakabalik ako ng dahan dahan. Kaya nandito pa rin, nagtatrabaho,” shared the ecstatic Dela Cruz. Dela Cruz stated that the number of games he will play in this conference would be determined by how he feels at each game. He is grateful, however, that his teammates are also working to keep him healthy.  “Hindi kasi ‘yun biglang mababalik mo na laro mo eh, hindi kasi ‘yun biglang mababalik mo ‘Yun ang maganda na marami akong kapusisyon after a long hiatus. This game hasn’t put me under too much stress, so I’m not worried about it. May veterans mga Dinadahan-dahan ako, malaking bagay. Coach Pido, kung kaya ko ba, gusto mo ba, kinakausap naman ako. Dela Cruz added, “Maganda ‘yung pagbalik ko.”  The powerful comeback and participation of Arth Dela Cruz on Thursday also demonstrates that he can still contribute to his team’s success on the floor. For athletes, depending on the injury, it is not always the end of the road. From injured athletes to returning warriors rallying into victory, one can quote Russell Crowe on this “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.” 
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