CALASIAO, Pangasinan — CJ Perez played inspired basketball in front of his province mates on his way to winning MVP honors in the PBA All-Star Game on Friday at the Calasiao Sports Complex.
The top overall pick in last year’s draft scored 32 points including 18 in the fourth quarter of the Rookies/Sophomores' 141-140 victory over the Juniors that was capped by Javee Mocon's tip-in at the buzzer.
“Inspired lang ako maglaro kasi nandito ako sa hometown ko,” said Perez, who was raised in Bautista, Pangasinan, about an hour southeast of Calasiao. “Gusto ko rin mapakita at ma-inspire ko sila sa pamamagitan ng paglalaro ko.”
“Nung fourth quarter lang talaga naging seryoso kaya dikit dikit lang ang laban. Pride na rin ng Juniors ang umiral kaya dumepensa sila pero hindi na kami nagpatalo,” said Perez.
Perez went 13-of-23 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. The former Lyceum star said he wasn't keeping track of his score.
“Hindi ko nga alam na 32 points ako. Doing the right thing lang all the time. ‘Yung shooting ko siguro, sinwerte lang ako pero thank God,” said Perez.
The MVP award was the crowning glory on a day that saw Perez compete in the Slam Dunk contest, where he reached the finals before bowing to eventual champion Rey Guevarra of Phoenix Pulse and Renz Palma of Blackwater.
“Nanalo kami dito, talagang it’s an honor na mabibigay namin sa sarili namin,” said Perez.