CJ PEREZ was quick to validate his status as the no. 1 overall pick in last year’s PBA draft.
The former NCAA MVP guided Columbian Dyip to an even 2-2 record in his first four games in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
He immediately made his presence felt right on his PBA debut when he exploded for 24 second half points to steer the Dyip to a 124-118 upset of defending champion San Miguel Beermen. The ‘Baby Beast’ finished with 26 points and five rebounds.
Perez, 25, led the Dyip in both scoring and rebounding with averages of 16.0 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while adding 4.0 assists and 2.0 steals, tied for team-best.
His arrival reinvigorated the franchise which could only show a single victory in the All-Filipino conference last year.
For his impressive work with the Dyip early this season, Perez emerged the unanimous choice as the first ever recipient of the PBA Press Corps Rookie of the Month for January.
The wingman out of Lyceum edged three other fellow talented rookies for the citation.
Also in contention for the honor were Robert Bolick of NorthPort, Blackwater’s Abu Tratter and Javee Mocon of Rain or Shine.
Bolick, the no. 3 overall pick, averaged 14.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists as the Batang Pier went 2-1 in the first three games of the former San Beda star for the franchise.
The 23-year-old Leyte native also posted 26 points in his pro debut, a 117-91 NorthPort drubbing of Blackwater, but was on the losing end of his highly-anticipated match-up with Perez as the Dyip hacked out a 110-100 victory over the Batang Pier. Perez finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, while Bolick was held to just three points but had seven rebounds and six assists.
The 7th pick overall, Tratter averaged a second team best 12.7 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds in the Elite’s first three outings for a 1-2 record. The rookie out of La Salle has been labelled by coach Bong Ramos the most consistent player so far for Blackwater, shooting 54 percent from the field as the team’s starting center.
Mocon, last year’s NCAA Finals MVP tabbed by the Elasto Painters in the draft at no.6, also made a good account of himself in his first three games where Rain or Shine went 2-1, posting averages of 9.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists.