Art dela Cruz admits he’s still has a long way to go to reach PBA stardom

ANTIPOLO — Slowly but surely, Blackwater rookie forward Art dela Cruz is earning his “superstar” reputation in the pro league.

Though failing to tow the Elite to the Governors Cup playoffs, Dela Cruz just earned another supporter on his young professional career in Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia.

“Art Dela Cruz will be a superstar in this league,” declared Vanguardia, shortly after steering Phoenix to a 93-81 win over Blackwater Wednesday night.

Vanguardia saw how the former San Beda star worked his tail off during practice this season, having previously served as one of the Elite’s assistant coaches, before being recruited to coach the Fuel Masters.

Fresh from steering the KL Dragon to the 2016 Asean Basketball League championship last March, Vanguardia said he was in awe with the son of former PBA player Arturo dela Cruz, who led the Elite with 18 points in an efficient 50 percent shooting clip.

But the humble San Beda product admitted he still has a long way to go.

“Long way to go, mahaba pa yung career ko,” dela Cruz said. “Sabi rin ng daddy ko, huwag ilagay sa ulo yung fame, take it as a blessing. Everyday is a struggle and hindi lagi magandang laro.”

Dela Cruz, though, wishes he can live up to the expectations as he progresses in the PBA.

“Sana,” he shortly said. “Thankful ako na napapapansin ni coach Ariel and ibang coaches yun.”

And despite suiting up for the league’s favorite whipping team, the versatile big man from Bulacan said he is learning how to grow in the pro league with the playing given to him by coach Leo Isaac.

“(I treat it as) blessing in disguise kasi kahit rookie ako, I can play how many minutes I can. Binibigyan ako ng confidence ni coach (Leo),” he said. – Jason Mercene

Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH