JAYMAR “CJ” Perez is starting to handle the pressure of being compared to Calvin Abueva better.
The 19-year-old prized San Sebastian freshman, christened by veteran barker Rolly Manlapaz as “The New Beast” for his athletic plays resembling those of the popular Alaska Rookie-MVP candidate, delivered one of his best performances of the season last Saturday against Mapua.
In the 72-63 victory against the Cardinals, the do-it-all forward and pride of Pangasinan flashed his brilliance by tallying a game-high 19 points, 11 boards, four assists, and one steal.
Despite averaging solid, all-around numbers of 13.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, a team-leading 3.6 assists, and one steal in 28.1 minutes per game, Perez’s performance has left much to be desired that he can still produce more.
But Golden Stags coach Topex Robinson has always stood by his ward, who, like Abueva, also commits a sizeable number of turnovers, largely due to their similar devil-may-care style of play.
“We have to remember that he’s a rookie. He’s bound to make mistakes,” Robinson said of Perez, who is second in the league in turnovers with a whopping 5.3 errors per game.
“He’s gonna win games for us and he’s gonna lose games for us. It’s simple as that,” Robinson added. “But I told him he’s always gonna be on the court. 'Yun yung trust na binibigay ko sa kanya.”
Perez thanks his coach for the trust he has received.
“Nagpapasalamat ako kay coach Topex dahil hindi siya sumusuko sa akin. Binibigyan niya ako ng kumpiyansa.”
Perez is again expected to play key minutes as the Stags battle Lyceum on Thursday in the resumption of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament at The Arena in San Juan.
Tipoff is set at 4 p.m. with the Stags trying to solidify their hold of fourth place with an eighth triumph in 13 games.
The Stags face an unpredictable Pirates side that has already slain two giants in Letran and San Beda, but seems to have a hard time against teams in the middle of the pack.
Lyceum seeks a fifth win in 13 games to remain alive in the playoff race.