FORMER San Sebastian star CJ Perez runs the risk of stunting the growth of his career when he red-shirts for Ateneo next season prior to joining the Blue Eagles in the UAAP in 2016.
This was the fear raised by Rodney Santos, who handled Perez as one of Topex Robinson's assistant coaches at San Sebastian last season. Santos is set to inherit the Stags job after Robinson's move to Lyceum.
Santos believes the one-year lull is a major gamble on the part of Perez, who, in his final year with the Stags, emerged as the NCAA's third leading scorer with an 18.2-point average per game.
He also had 7.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.6 steals a game.
“Nanghihinayang din ako sa part niya dahil ito na sana ‘yung taon niya sa NCAA. Pangatlong taon na niya sana dito. Nanghihinayang ako sa one year na mababakante siya,” said Santos.
Perez will play for only one season for Ateneo since he has to red-shirt for a year. He is expected to take over the spot of Ateneo star Kiefer Ravena, who will play his final year with the Blue Eagles in 2015.
While he respects the decision of his former player to move to a different school, Santos said hopes the transfer of Perez to Ateneo will not do harm to his career that was starting to blossom with the Stags.
Santos is currently coaching PBA D-League team Livermarin, which has a school tie-up with San Sebastian. Santos said Perez could have been part of the lineup in the D-League if he was still with San Sebastian.
“Kung titignan mo, nakapag-D-League na sana siya. Sayang ‘yung one-year kasi papanik na (‘yung career niya) tapos mawawala siya ng one year,” said Santos.
Given the one-year layoff, Santos said Perez will have to make quite an impression in his only season with the Blue Eagles in 2016 if he hopes to keep his career going.
“I know Ateneo is Ateneo,” said the former PBA player. “Kailangang bumulusok siya kasi hindi puwedeng ganun lang. Kasi one year lang siya maglalaro, kailangang i-maximize niya.”
Santos also admitted the void left by Perez will be hard to fill as the Stags try to improve on their 5-13 win-loss campaign in the NCAA last season.
“He is very good. Nagpaalam naman siya ng maayos. Mabait naman ‘yung bata” said Santos. “He can give 20 points and at least 10 rebounds. Saan mo huhugutin ‘yun? Nakakapanghinayang din.”