CJ Perez didn’t seem like his usual self in Lyceum’s 75-68 defeat to San Beda on Thursday.
Coming in averaging 19.2 points for the season, the reigning MVP was held to just nine points on a 4-of-9 shooting clip, on top of his six rebounds, four assists, and two steals in the Pirates’ final elimination game.
Perez would agree, sharing that he didn’t feel right in the buildup for the much-awaited duel.
“Di sila ang naka-stop sa akin. Sarili ko ang ini-stop ko,” he said. “Pagpasok pa lang ng game, di ko ramdam na magaan ang katawan ko at ang tight ko ngayon. Pumasok yun sa utak ko at nawala ako sa focus.”
With Perez playing listless from the on-set, Lyceum fell behind big and even stared at a 20-point lead, 59-39 late in the third quarter.
Not even a late surge from the Pirates -- one which Perez helped trigger get his side within five -- could not shake him out of his funk.
“Ewan ko din eh. Parang bigla na lang dumating na may pumasok sa utak ko at na-pressure ako. Kahit nung fourth quarter, ganoon pa rin ang nararamdaman ko. Binigay ko na lang yung best effort ko para maka-contribute sa team,” he said.
Perez, though, isn’t one to get discouraged, especially with the culture coach Topex Robinson has built in Lyceum.
And the 24-year-old forward is confident that though his team is entering the Final Four as the two-seed, the Pirates have what it takes to once again return to the Finals and win it all this NCAA Season 94.
“Sa mga ganitong talo, di kami nagsisisihan. Wala kaming sinisisi, wala kaming excuses. Yun ang nabuild na culture sa Lyceum. Mas maganda na mag-move forward kung ganoon ang culture na na-build mo,” he said.
“Kaya sa amin, excited kaming lahat na maglaro sa Final Four. Mas maganda yung ganito kasi kailangan mong dumaan sa mga adversities na kailangan lagpasan like Letran muna. Yung focus namin kung paano kami mag-execute as players na pag tough game na, pag dikitan na, pag pangit yung unang half namin, yun ang inaayos namin sa sarili namin na kung paano kami mag-move forward together. Katulad nung kanina sa first half, nawala lang kami. Pero yung second half, nag-trabaho kami together. Ganoon naman dito eh, kung di kami magtatrabaho together, wala yung Lyceum.”
Perez is also confident that he’ll get back to his old bearings in time for Lyceum’s semifinal clash against Letran next Friday.
“Andito naman yung tunay na CJ Perez, kaso yun nga, hindi ko naman mabubuhat yung team kung ako lang talaga. Kailangan naming mag-work together talaga. Sabihin na lang nating bad day kaya ganoon. I’m ok naman,” he said.
“May bawi naman yan eh. Di naman every game Pasko eh. Lahat ng players, dumadaan sa ganitong sitwasyon. Ang gagawin ko na lang i-accept yun at focus sa next game namin.”