Fil-Kiwi Jordan Perez looking forward to play for Ateneo
Jordan Perez
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Fil-Kiwi Jordan Perez looking forward to play for Ateneo
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - August 27, 2020 - 2:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino-New Zealander Jordan Perez’s first real brush with Philippine basketball was when the Philippine team trained in Wellington as they prepared for the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. 

At that time, Perez was only 11 years old, and he quietly sat inside the bus next to Jimmy Alapag and Gabe Norwood.

“I wasn’t aware how big a thing Philippine basketball was,” admitted the 18-year-old Jordan. “I shot the ball with LA Tenorio as well. Meeting them left a lasting impression on me and I wanted to be like them.”

“I was so naïve back then that I bragged to (then national consultant) Tab Baldwin that I can shoot,” remembered Perez with a smile. “I’m embarrassed thinking about that now.”

Little did Perez know that eight years later, he would be playing for Baldwin and the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

The young Perez first came over during New Zealand’s participation in the NBTC National Finals in 2017. During a scrimmage with the Ateneo Blue Eaglets that counted SJ Belangel Dave Ildefonso and Kai Sotto in their ranks at that time, the Ateneo coaching staff liked Perez’ leadership (he plays the role of court general).

“I always wanted to play for them (the Blue Eagles) especially with Coach Tab’s guidance and support. I followed their three-peat with my Kiwi friends, the Maagdenberg brothers (Pat and Edward who also play for Ateneo). I also met Dwight and Eli Ramos and I am very much impressed with them.”

Sports in New Zealand largely reflects its British colonial heritage with rugby, cricket, and football as the top sports. However, since Steven Adams made it to the NBA, basketball has been the fastest-growing sport. 

The 6’11” Adams, who suits up for Oklahoma City Thunder, isn’t the first Kiwi to play in the NBA. Before him, there was Sean Marks (11 seasons with Toronto, Miami, San Antonio, Phoenix, New Orleans and Portland) and Kirk Penney (two seasons with Miami and the Los Angeles Clippers).

“I was fortunate to be involved in the game of basketball at this time of growth,” underscored Perez. “Steven Adams also went to the New Zealand Basketball Academy which is where I go. Most high school basketball players aspire to play US NCAA Division 1 basketball. There are currently around 50 Kiwis in the US with 12 Fil-Kiwis going to play college ball in the Philippines.”

During Ateneo’s run in the recent Philippine Collegiate Champions League, Perez was on the sidelines watching his future teammates bag the school’s fifth national title. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Perez flew back to New Zealand to be with his family. While Down Under, Perez is working out to stay in shape and looking forward to when it is all safe to return to Manila. 

“It’s a scary time for everyone,” noted Perez. “And like everyone else, we hope it will get better soon and go back to picking up our lives. Then I can’t wait to go to Ateneo and play for the Blue Eagles.”

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