By JONAS TERRADO
Jericho Cruz officially signed with San Miguel Beer as an unrestricted free agent Tuesday, a day after his contract with NLEX expired in the middle of the PBA Governors’ Cup campaign.
Cruz inked a three-year deal that will reunite him with his former college coach Leo Austria while also bolstering an already-deep Beermen squad for the final stretch of the elimination round.
Team Governor Robert Non and team manager Gee Abanilla were elated to see Cruz attend practice at the Acropolis gym where his entry into the SMB was formalized.
His agent Danny Espiritu later posted a group photo on social media of Cruz shaking hands with Non after the deal was forged.
The veteran guard became the fifth player to switch teams as an unrestricted free agent which the PBA has already allowed beginning with those who were part of the 2014 draft class.
Rodney Brondial, also a teammate of Cruz when the two were with Adamson, joined SMB from Alaska while John Pinto left Meralco for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Matt Ganuelas-Rosser signed with TNT from Terrafirma before Chris Banchero shunned Phoenix Super LPG’s offer to become the new court general of Meralco.
Cruz’s addition is a big boost for the Beermen, who despite their loaded talent sit in a share of fifth place with Ginebra at 5-4 with two games left in the eliminations.
He also came off a good showing in his final two appearances for the Road Warriors, helping them beat the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
NLEX improved to 7-3 after both victories, but Cruz opted to part ways despite his now-former team’s good standing in the season-ending conference.