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    CJ Perez relishes first PBA crown after two finals heartbreaks in college

    Sep 5, 2022
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    CJ Perez gets his first title just over a year after moving to San Miguel.
    PHOTO: Marlo Cueto

    CJ PEREZ celebrated his first championship of his PBA career on Sunday with a performance to remember in Game Seven.

    Perez capped off the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup finals with a team-high 25 points, four rebounds, and seven assists to lead San Miguel to a 119-97 win over TNT to capture the crown.

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    The 28-year-old Perez finally won a PBA title after spending his first few years in the league with lowly Terrafirma, the team that drafted him first overall in the 2018 draft.

    Even before the PBA, Perez rarely won titles, with his lone championship coming in 2018 the D-League where he played for Zark’s Burger. The Pangasinan native was on the losing end twice in the NCAA when Lyceum lost to San Beda in the finals in college.

    “Naka-dalawang finals ako pero hindi ko nakuha. Isa sa D-League. Pero finally, dito sa PBA,” said Perez. “Pangarap ko ‘to talaga eh. Marami na akong napanood na finals game ng mga iniidolo ko dati.”

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    CJ Perez SMB vs TNT Game 7

    “Sobrang saya. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Lord na binigyan kami ng lakas at natapos itong Game Seven. Sobrang nakakapagod pero worth it. Sobrang saya ko,” said Perez.

    Acquired in a trade in 2021, Perez was one of the pieces that was brought in when the Beermen broke their ‘Death Five’ and it didn’t take long for him to experience winning a championship for his new team.

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    Perez said it was an honor to be part of San Miguel and be one of the players that contributed to the Beermen’s return to the glory, and it was all because of the support of the veterans who have been there during the previous title runs of the team.

    “Isang karangalan na mapasama sa San Miguel winning culture. Nagtiwala rin talaga sila coach sa akin. Even though tatlong games na struggle talaga ako, hindi sila nag-give up sa akin. Nagtiwala sila sa akin hangga’t di natatapos ang laro,” said Perez.

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      Perez said he wants more but acknowledged that it won’t be easy.

      "Siyempre, ‘yung kumpiyansa tataas. We need to be on the ground. Kailangan maging humble. Sa mga next conference, gagawin namin ‘yung best namin na makarating sa moment na ganito. Sobrang excited ako sa mga susunod na conference na makakapag-contribute ako sa team ng San Miguel,” he said.

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      “Nagpapasalamat ako sa management, sila boss Al (Alfrancis Chua), binigyan kami ng kumpiyansa,” said Perez.

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      CJ Perez gets his first title just over a year after moving to San Miguel.
      PHOTO: Marlo Cueto
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