By ALEXANDRIA SUNGA
He originally wanted to wear the No. 17 for his birthday, but Columbian Dyip rookie CJ Perez found his lucky jersey in another number instead.
The 2018 No. 1 overall pick shared how he settled for the No. 7 and, along the way, discovered a new love.
Born on November 17, 1993, the former NCAA star out of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, had to give way to a teammate when he started out playing in the league.
Little did he know, however, that he would come to love the No. 7, which was also the number of his idol, Calvin Abueva.
“Nag number 7 ako and sakto naging idol ko si Calvin. So ayun, for me lucky yung 7 sa akin. So dinire-diretso ko na,” said Perez in a short chat with SPIN Life on Wednesday after Columbian Dyip defeated Meralco, 86-85, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Because of their similarities, Perez was dubbed “The Baby Beast” after Abueva’s moniker “The Beast.”
Although the Pangasinan native did not get the chance to play with his idol, the two later became close pals. Perez looked up to Abueva and respected the latter’s advice in sports and in life.
“As a kuya, alam niya kung anong dapat gawin so I’ll take it. Isasapuso ko and isasaisip ko yung mga sinabi niya,” said Perez.
When asked if he was able to apply the Phoenix Pulse star’s advice, he said, “Syempre every game naman, kung ano yung inadvice, kailangang gawin.”
The aggressive rookie shared how he improves his play and mindset every game.
“Syempre working hard every day. Doing my extra workout and syempre nagpe-pray lang ako every day. Yun yung nasa mindset ko, na mananalo kami. Yun lang,” he said.