CJ Perez has vengeance in his mind against Robert Bolick as San Beda spoiled the coronation of the NCAA Season 93 MVP with a 94-87 win over erstwhile unbeaten Lyceum in the opener of the championship series last Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Bolick got the best of Perez in the matchup of two top talents in the NCAA as the Red Lions drew first blood and moved a win away from getting their 21st overall title.
But while the two have shared admiration for each other, both know they have to put the mutual respect aside come Game Two of the best-of-three finals series on Thursday.
“Sabi ko sa kanya (Bolick), wag silang bibitaw kasi kukunin namin sa kanila yun,” Perez said in jest when asked what he told Bolick after the match.
“Pero yun nga. Babawi kami. Magkikita pa kami sa Game Two. Yun lang talaga ang sinabi ko sa kanya,” he added.
Bolick is not actually new to this situation. In fact, his coming out party was in the finals of last year when he went toe-to-toe with former Arellano star and now Gilas Pilipinas mainstay Jiovani Jalalon, outplaying the brilliant guard out of Cagayan de Oro to win his first title with San Beda.
Often overlooked way back from his humble beginnings in La Salle, Bolick relishes moments like this one and for him, there’s no better way to rack up title number two than stealing the spotlight away from yet another masterful player in Perez.
“He’s an MVP for a reason. He deserves it,” Bolick said of Perez.
The 6’1 combo guard from Leyte finished with 24 points in the game, including clutch baskets which had him screaming right in front of thousands of Red Lions supporters just to let all his emotions out in the end.
He knows that he got his work cut out ahead of him coming into Game Two and he vows to be ready for that Perez fight back.
“As I’ve said, you can’t stop him. Like si Jalalon noon, you’ll just have to force him to tough shots and hope that he misses,” Bolick continued.
“He’s gonna make shots. Fourth quarter, seven straight, long threes, he is really good. Give it to him. He’s the MVP, he deserves it, no one deserves it better than him. We look forward to Game Two, knowing he’s gonna come back strong,” he added.
While Perez played up to standards, he knows that true greatness elevates their performance in the biggest stage. That is something he intends to show come Game Two.
“Yung performance namin kailangan pa namin dagdagan. Yung effort talaga. San Beda ang pinakamagandang nilaro. They are the better team after Game One so we need to bounce back,” Perez said.
For Bolick, he expects nothing less from Perez and the Pirates.
“Sabi niya sa akin, he’s gonna win Game Two. That’s the beauty of basketball, the competition. At the end of the day, we’re still friends, but inside the court, we want to win,” said the San Beda star.