CJ could benext MVP

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
CJ could benext MVP
CJ Perez
Jun Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer marvels at how CJ Perez, a key piece of the team’s rebuilding in 2021, has developed into a multifaceted player.

A known scoring machine during his first two seasons in the league with Terrafirma, Perez has adapted well and definitely earned his stripes in the company of June Mar Fajardo and the big guns of powerhouse SMB.

The fifth-year pro validated this by playing a key role in the Beermen’s rise to the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup throne and copping his maiden Best Player of the Conference and Finals MVP plums.

“CJ has learned so much since he’s been on our team,” said San Miguel veteran and playing assistant coach Chris Ross of Perez, who joined SMB via trade in February 2021. “He’s always been a talented scorer but now he’s learning how to actually play the game. His IQ is on the rise, he’s making the right plays, not forcing shots.”

Ross, one of the three holdovers from the old San Miguel “Death 5,” went as far as anticipating an MVP award for Perez in the near future.

“I’ve had a front row seat on how his game has grown, see how he works, how badly he wants to win. He’s still a young man and he’s gotten better and better. Sky’s the limit,” said the 10-time PBA champ.

“MVP? I guess that’s the next step, right? It’s hard when you got the seven-time MVP (Fajardo) in your team but that’s the next step for CJ. He’s on the right trajectory to do that.”

SMB coach Jorge Gallent said he loves how Perez has matured.

“CJ has been a great player. He plays offense, he plays defense. But now he just showed his worth in this conference that he can excel pa,” he said.

“As a good player, he became a better player. He did the things he had to do in practice and games and this is where he is now. He won BPC and he won Finals MVP. He’s getting mature already and I love it.”

Perez thanked his coaches and his teammates for the trust.

As for MVP and other individual accolades, if it comes, it comes.

“I never dream about sariling awards. Kung darating darating eh. I’ve been in that line for five years na and dumating siya ngayon and I’m just grateful and so blessed na dumarating siya ngayon. I will never stop working,” he said.

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