JUST as San Miguel Beer (SMB) was in search for a go-to-guy following the injury to main man June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez rose to the occasion and guided the team to the semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Pangasinan native willingly took the leadership baton and owned it in the most crucial time, anchoring a pair of big wins by the Beermen bridging the tail end of the eliminations and the start of the conference playoffs.
Sans Mr. Fajardo who is out with an MCL sprain, Mr. Perez lifted the second-seeded Beermen to a 3-0 week highlighted by a convincing 121-105 win over No. 7 Converge during their quarterfinal match up on Sunday.
The Gilas Pilipinas guard posted all-around averages of 23.0 points on 55-percent clip, 10.3 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 3.3 steals in three matches, numbers solid enough to make him the Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week for the period Mar. 8 and 15-19.
Mr. Perez dropped 26 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and five steals as the twice-to-beat SMB made short work of Converge in the quarters to arrange a Final Four duel with sibling rival and reigning champion Ginebra.
Prior to that, the former NCAA MVP out of Lyceum already flashed his brilliant form in the Beermen’s last two elimination round assignments against NLEX and Rain or Shine to lock in the no. 2 seed.
The top overall pick in the 2018 draft fired 23 markers, seven boards, four assists, and two steals in the team’s 120-106 victory over NLEX last Wednesday.
And following a short breather, Mr. Perez on Friday plunged back to action with the same form after unloading 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and three steals in a 129-116 demolition of Rain or Shine. — Olmin Leyba