An untimely injury prevented Arthur dela Cruz from donning the Philippine colors in 2017.
The 27-year old son of former PBA player and current Columbian Dyip assistant coach Art dela Cruz suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon right on the first day of Gilas Pilipinas practice and eventually blew the chance to play for the national team.
The younger Dela Cruz, who was still playing for the Blackwater Elite when the unfortunate incident occurred, has since been dreaming of another opportunity to suit up for flag and country.
As fate would have it, the 9th overall pick in the 2015 rookie draft was included by newly designated Gilas coach Tim Cone, along with five other Brgy. Ginebra players, to the 15-man training pool for the team which will represent the country in the upcoming Southeast Asian Games which is set from November 30 to December 15.
“From being injured, parang wala na akong kumpiyansa sa sarili, tapos naging parang regular sa rotation niya. Hindi rin ako nag-expect na mapupunta rito the second time around,” said a beaming Dela Cruz.
“Hindi ko ine-expect na magiging kakampi ko sina June Mar (Fajardo), sina Jayson (Castro). Nakaka-overwhelm din na nakakasama sila. Masaya kasi experience ito. Thankful ako na nakasama ako sa pool na ito,” he added.
And regardless if makes it the Final 12 or not, the experience gained will come a long way in rebuilding his confidence which was shattered due to the spate of injuries which befell him.
“Sobrang nakakataas ng kumpiyansa ito. Gilas na ito. Hindi lahat nakalakuha ng ganitong opportunity. Laking bagay na naging part ako kasi kinukuha ko pa yung groove ko.”
“And then nakasama ako rito, so ang laking boost sa akin nito kasi makakakuha pa ako ng mga tips sa mga teammates ko eh. Yun lang talaga hinahanap ko — confidence sa sarili.”