HISTORY beckons for CJ Perez, who is expected to be made top pick in the PBA draft by Columbian.
But for all of the pre-draft fanfare, Perez is just happy that he is this close to achieving his lifelong dream of playing in the PBA.
"Lahat naman ng basketball players, dream na makarating sa PBA," he said after closing his collegiate career with Lyceum.
Though Perez is honored to be branded as the presumptive top selection of this year's class, he really doesn't mind wherever spot he lands on.
"I'm very happy kung mag-No. 1 nga, pero kahit anong team sa PBA naman, basta makarating ako sa dream ko, masaya na ako," he said.
If Columbian does make Perez the No. 1 pick on December 16, it would make the 24-year-old Pangasinense the first-ever Lyceum product to be taken first overall in the rookie draft.
That would erase the previous mark that dates back to 1986 when Ricky Cui was tabbed second by Manila Beer, and would make him the highest Pirate picked since Joey Mente of San Miguel in 2001 and Gary David of Coca-Cola in 2004, both of whom were taken 10th.
Perez, the NCAA Season 93 MVP and Conference MVP of the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants' Cup, is touted as a game-changer for any team — and especially for the cellar-dwelling Dyip.
And the 24-year-old Perez has expressed his excitement to play Phoenix, which will put him on a collision course with Lyceum coach and Fuel Masters deputy Topex Robinson, as well as the man who he's frequently compared to, Calvin Abueva.
"Dudurugin ko yan," he said kiddingly of the prospects of facing his long-time mentor.
"Hindi joke lang. Excited akong makita (si coach Topex) sa PBA at hindi na sa NCAA. Hindi naman magbabago yung samahan namin. Siya yung Daddy-o ko. Excited lang ako para sa next chapter ng basketball career ko."