THOUGH he didn't wind up with an NCAA championship in his two years in Lyceum, CJ Perez could still consider his collegiate run in Intramuros as a success.
"Isang wonderful na journey para sa amin, lalo na para sa akin kasi nakapaglaro ako sa Lyceum," he said. "Isang karangalan na nakapaglaro ako sa Lyceum at nakalaro ako sa Finals. Sobrang saya ko na nakasama ako sa LPU."
Perez was basically the first piece of the puzzle, and with the 24-year-old being looked at as the poster boy for the program Lyceum is building, recruits have considered taking their talents to Intramuros.
That change did bring the Pirates to back-to-back Finals appearances, which unfortunately both ended in runner-up finishes to mighty San Beda.
Still, Perez can sleep soundly at night knowing he did all he could while wearing those Lyceum red-and-grays.
"Walang regret sa akin as long as binigay namin ang very best namin. Nagkataon lang talaga na they are the better team, sabi nga ni coach. Walang regret na natalo kami ngayon," he said, moments after scattering 19 points, six rebounds, four assists, and a steal in Lyceum's 71-56 Game 2 defeat to San Beda in the NCAA Season 94 Finals.
Though Perez, the NCAA Season 93 Most Valuable Player, is off to his next chapter as he emerges as the presumptive top selection in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft, he remains optimistic on what the future holds for his alma mater.
"Sinabi ko sa kanila na good luck for the next journey in Season 95. Sabi ko ibigay lang nila yung best nila para hindi sila magsisi sa huli," he said, keeping his fate that the Pirates can make a third straight Finals appearance next year.
"Naniniwala ako kay coach, sa mga coaching staff, at sa mga players na darating. Nagtitiwala ako sa kanila kasi nakikita ko ang mga effort ng mga darating, yung effort nila sa practice, at talagang nakikipag-compete sila para sa slot nila. I'm very excited sa mga susunod na kabanata para sa Lyceum."
As Perez begins to pack his bags and start saying his goodbye from the confines of Lyceum, he can smile knowing that he has made every second of his stay there worthwhile -- one which he will always remember wherever he basketball journey takes him.
"Pag naalala nila ang Lyceum and CJ Perez, gusto kong tumatak yung culture na na-build dito simula nung dumating kami, nila kambal (Marcelinos), at nila (Toci) Tansingco. Yun yung culture talaga na kaya naming lumaban kahit na sino pa yan," he said.