The arduous quest to reach the playoffs has finally ended for CJ Perez.
Perez will see action in the quarterfinals for the first time in his PBA career as San Miguel clinched its playoff berth in the Philippine Cup with a 110-80 rout of Phoenix on Friday, September 17.
“I’m excited to play in the playoffs,” Perez said in a mix of Filipino and English after the win.
“It will be the first time that I will play in the playoffs here in the PBA. It is now a matter effort and focus when it comes to the playoffs”
Drafted No. 1 overall by Columbian (now Terrafirma) in the 2018 Draft, Perez never made the quarterfinals throughout his four-conference stint with the embattled franchise.
In the all-Filipino conference last season, Perez and Terrafirma finished at 12th and last place with a poor 1-10 record.
Perez, though, saw his fortunes change as Terrafirma traded him to San Miguel during the offseason.
Showing how determined he is to finally set foot in the playoffs, Perez stepped up in the absence of injured teammate Terrence Romeo as he fired a conference-high 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists against Phoenix.
Perez is averaging 15.6 points, 5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.3 steals.
“The coaching staff trusts me and the veterans push me to play my game,” said the two-time scoring champion.
Perez, though, knows the grind does not stop as San Miguel has a chance to clinch a twice-to-beat playoff bonus.
Sitting at fourth place with a 6-3 record, San Miguel still has a shot at a top-two finish if it beats Magnolia and Alaska in its remaining assignments in the elimination round.
“We need to trust each other. Our team is loaded, but if we fail to trust each other, we will have a hard time,” Perez said.
“All teams prepare for San Miguel so we have to sustain our effort and defense and develop our chemistry more.” – Rappler.com