TOP coaches believe CJ Perez has what it takes to cushion the impact of Kiefer Ravena's departure at the end of this season and take over the role as Ateneo's go-to guy in the UAAP.
“Grabe yung CJ Perez, dominant talaga," said Arellano coach Jerry Codinera after watching the Blue Eagles transferee dominate his Chiefs in leading Ateneo Team B to victory in the Division II finals of the Fr. Martin’s Cup.
"Malakas, parang (Gabe) Norwood na kumpleto, hapit lumaro, madiin. Talagang paghawak ang bola, ang taas ng percentage niya sa pasok (penetration). He is tall, mahaba. He can be a go-to-guy,” added the PBA great.
The 22-year old pride of Bautista, Pangasinan proved so big a headache for Codinera that the Chiefs coach twice had to call a timeout in the first half, just so he can map out a defensive strategy for the high-flying player.
Spin.ph caught a glimpse of how the former San Sebastian Stag wreaked havoc on the Chiefs in the final.
View the video:
If there is one downside to Perez’s imminent entry into the Blue Eagles’ rotation, it is his short eligibility of one year after spending his first three years of college with the Stags under the supervision of basketball patron Dennis Pineda.
He played two seasons with the Stags before leaving Recoletos after what he called a ‘falling out’ between school officials and the group of Pineda. He is currently undergoing residency at Ateneo.
The 'Baby Beast' bared how San Sebastian’s former star Calvin Abueva took him under his wings during his residency year with the Stags.
“Nasa Team B ako noon eh. Nagsasabay kami minsan tapos 'yun, natuturan niya (Abueva) kung pano rumebound, mag-hassle saka yung physicality,” said the 6-2 guard.
“Hindi ako ganito dati eh. Tapos nung nagkasama kami ni Calvin, ginagaya ko siya,” he added.
Perez said he wants to make the most of his only eligibility year with Ateneo but does not expect to step into the role of Ravena, much less demand to be the go-to guy.
“Kailangan ko talagang sulitin. Sayang nga eh. Pero okay na sa akin 'yun,” he said. “Magco-contribute lang ako. Expect ko role player muna ko. Kasi madaming papasok na (pwedeng go-to-guy), babalik pa si Thirdy Ravena. Basta ready ako anytime, ready ako kahit ano ipalaro nila sa akin.”
Perez also vowed to be a different man in the UAAP.
“Basta iba ang laro na ipapakita ko sa UAAP, kasi dati sa NCAA, dito aanuhin ko siguro yung mga assists ko saka 'yung hassle,” said Perez, who admits to idolize Abueva and Norwood.
Ateneo Team B coach Yuri Escueta believes Perez will not need much adjustment upon his ascension to the Blue Eagles’ main team.
“He is ready na for next year. Definitely kaya na niya yung UAAP, pero syempre, may mga kailangan pa siyang i-prove, which is strength-wise and 'yung mental aspect of the game. Pero in terms physical, talenti-wise and hardwork… wala kang masasabi kay CJ,” said Escueta, a former Ateneo cager.
Codinera has no doubt Perez will shine with the Blue Eagles.
“Nagdo-dominate nga sa NCAA 'yan, kaya no brainer na 'yun. Of course, he can dominate, hindi nila mafe-feel yung pagkawala ni Kiefer pag nakapaglaro na si CJ. May threat na sila ulit sa '2' position,” he said.