FOR nearly a week, San Beda has been preparing to face a vengeful Lyceum squad led by reigning MVP CJ Perez who’s out to settle an old score in the much-awaited rematch of last year’s NCAA’s Finals.
Now the Red Lions will be facing a Pirates side without their best player after Perez was handed a one-game ban by the NCAA Management Committee (Mancomm) after failing to inform the league about his application for the 2018 PBA draft.
That changes a lot of things, even for San Beda which – on paper – stands to benefit from Perez's absence.
“Kung may rule ang NCAA, you have to follow the rules on that. Medyo mahirap sagutin kasi di pa nag-settle sa mind ko na wala si CJ sa game tomorrow,” said San Beda head coach Boyet Fernandez, who said that he was only informed of Perez’ suspension when reporters started asking him for comments.
“Game time situation na siguro. We’re really focused on LPU with CJ there, tignan na lang natin kung anong adjustments and anong gagawin nila tomorrow,” he added.
The NCAA policy board on Monday afternoon upheld the Mancomm’s decision to ban Perez, unforunately leaving the Pirates without their star wingman.
That changes the finals protagonists' game plans, especially since both teams had been preparing to face complete lineups.
One thing’s for certain though, Fernandez is expecting a tougher grind against the Pirates which could use this as a rallying point to pull the rug from under the Red Lions.
“Di naman kami basta-basta magbabago kasi parehas lang naman, with or without CJ, LPU is still a strong team. They’re losing their top scorer and top player but it doesn’t mean that they won’t be tough and they won’t play hard tomorrow,” Fernandez said.
“It will be a different LPU tomorrow, baka sobra-sobra pa ang intensity nila bukas kasi without CJ, di ba pag nasasaktan ka or nasusugatan ka, lumalaban ka lalo, iba ang reaction mo nun e, and we’re bracing for that.”