by Jonas Terrado
NLEX finally acquired the services of Jericho Cruz from TNT in a three-way trade which also involved NorthPort on Monday, ending a saga that began when the KaTropa mysteriously placed the five-year guard on the inactive list.
Under the terms of the deal, the Road Warriors received Cruz and Michael Miranda and NorthPort’s 2020 second round pick while the KaTropa got Marion Magat and NorthPort’s 2021 and 2022 second round picks.
NorthPort, which served as a conduit with sister teams NLEX and TNT prohibited from making direct trades, acquired NLEX’s 2019 and 2020 second round selections.
The PBA’s trade committee immediately gave the deal a go after the three teams spent the past few days trying to finalize the trade.
Sources said trade papers were supposed to be submitted last Thursday but was delayed after the teams went back to the negotiating table to fix some minor details.
The trade opens the door for Cruz to make his on-court return as early as Friday against Magnolia at the Mall of Asia Arena after he was removed from the active roster by TNT during the Philippine Cup for unknown reasons.
Cruz is also set to reunite with NLEX coach Yeng Guiao, his former coach at Rain or Shine. He was part of Guiao’s last PBA championship with the Elasto Painters during the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.