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Perkins ready for physicality

Phoenix rookie Jason Perkins said the other day he’s ready for the physicality in the PBA with the promise to do whatever it takes to win as the recent draft’s fourth overall pick after Christian Standhardinger, Kiefer Ravena and Toto Jose.

Perkins, 25, prepared for the PBA by dropping over 20 pounds to hit 225, building his core and muscling up in a rigid conditioning program. “I owe it to my skills coach Mark Geli and conditioning coach Diego Lozano,” said Perkins. “I worked on my lower body because I needed to strengthen my base. I’m undersized at four and I do all my work on the ground. I’m also comfortable playing three. I know I can contribute in either position on both ends. I’ve been compared to Joe De Vance and that’s an absolute compliment. It’ll take a while before I can even come close to playing like him. I’ll do the dirty work out there, sacrifice my body to take the charge, box out, dive for loose balls, scrap for rebounds, set screens. This is what I’ve dreamed of – to play in the PBA. I’m excited to find out how I measure up to the level of competition.”

Perkins said he’s learned a lot from studying the moves of his PBA idols, Jun Limpot for footwork, Alvin Patrimonio for offense and Rudy Hatfield for defense.   What Perkins will bring to the PBA is his championship pedigree. He won two UAAP titles with La Salle and two PBA D-League championships with Cignal.

“From coach Juno (Sauler) at La Salle, I improved by basketball IQ and from coach Aldin (Ayo) also at La Salle, I toughened up defensively,” he said. “From coach Boyet (Fernandez) at Cignal, I rediscovered the importance of working hard. I started to play basketball when I was eight. It was coach Frankie (Lim) who first recruited me to play for San Beda but when coach Frankie left San Beda, I moved to La Salle where I played four years. In the PBA, I want to be like Sean Anthony who’s a solid rebounder even if he’s not that tall. In the NBA, I admire guys like Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins.”

Perkins, the only hopeful to show up in a Barong Tagalog at the recent draft, said his exposure in the PBA D-League was a seamless transition to the PBA. “I’ve always believed that practice makes perfect,” he said. “Coach Boyet gave me confidence to play my game, to be myself, to enjoy the moment. I realize the competition in the PBA is way different from what I experienced in the UAAP and the PBA D-League. But I know I’m ready.”

Perkins never expected to be picked as high as fourth in the draft. “I thought maybe, top eight,” he said. “I did my best at the combine. I didn’t want to disappoint my mom (Jennifer Cahigas of Bolinao, Pangasinan) who flew in from Minnesota, my brother Herbert who’s based in Korea with the US military, his girlfriend Amy and my girlfriend Marga. They were all at the draft. My stepdad Fred Boddie and my sister in Ohio couldn’t make the trip. I miss my dad Herbert who passed away about five years ago. He taught me how to play when I was a kid. My parents met in Guam where my mom used to work in a sewing shop making basketball jerseys and my dad was with the US Navy. They eventually moved to Maryland where I was born.”

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Like De Vance, Perkins is a threat from inside or outside, a three who can face up and hit the three or a four who can post and power his way close to the basket. He’s a strong offensive rebounder with a high basketball IQ and the ability to create position for put-backs. Aside from Perkins, Phoenix named Sidney Onwubere, Jayson Grimaldo, Wilson Baltazar, Dan Sara and John Casino in the draft last Sunday. Newly appointed Phoenix coach Louie Alas is rumored to be working on a trade to bring in a veteran and a recently drafted player for one of the Fuel Masters’ own picks.

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