CJ Perez has been looking forward to this opportunity for the past three years that when he got the call, he immediately said yes.
"Pagka-text pa lang sa akin na sabi ni mam Yvette Ruiz na pumunta ako ng Monday, um-oo ako agad dahil magandang opportunity ito para sa career ko and syempre, para makapag-serve sa country," said the Columbian forward.
Perez last saw action for the Philippine team in the 2016 Fiba Asia Challenge where the cadets squad bowed out in the second round.
He also gained an invite to coach Chot Reyes' "23-for-2023" cadets pool, but was unable to suit up in the 2017 Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup.
That's why when the opportunity presented itself, the Pangasinense Perez made sure that he grabbed it.
"Minsan lang tayo mabigyan ng pagkakataon na ganito. Last na naglaro ako, 2016 pa sa Iran," he said. "Yung feeling na nandoon ka, pag-raise pa lang ng flag at pagkanta mo ng Lupang Hinirang, tatayo ang balahibo mo. Pag nasa loob ka, yung energy, yung intensity talaga ramdam mo."
Perez wasted no time making the most of the privilege, absorbing like a sponge the plays and lessons in his first training with the seniors squad.
And he looks forward to gaining more of those in the coming sessions as he relishes the opportunity, whether he gets lined up or not.
"Sobrang grateful ko lang dahil sunod-sunod yung blessings na binibigay sa akin ni God," he said. "Yung makapaglaro ka sa Pilipinas, sinabi ni coach Yeng (Guiao) na open ang slot, ibibigay ko lang yung best ko and I'll take it dahil minsan lang mangyari sa buhay ito."