MANILA, Philippines—Expected to take charge in Lyceum’s game
against San Beda on Thursday, reigning NCAA Most Valuable
Player CJ Perez instead endured one of his worst games of
Perez scored only 9 points — his fewest in a game this year —
on top of six rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He had
entered the game averaging 19.2 points per contest, and put up
22 points when the Pirates defeated the Red Lions, 73-66, in
the first round.
The veteran guard came alive defensively in the fourth quarter,
sparking the Pirates’ comeback with a couple of steals. But the
Pirates could not complete the rally as San Beda held on for a
75-68 win and Lyceum ended the elimination round with a 15-3
Afterward, San Beda coach Boyet Fernandez touted his team’s
defense on Perez. “It’s the first time that we limited CJ Perez
to only 9 points. That’s below his average, and credit to the
guys — they really stepped up in their defense,” he said.
For Perez, however, it was not the San Beda defense that caused
his poor play.
“Actually, di ‘yung sila ‘yung naka-stop sa akin,” Perez told
reporters after the game. “Feeling ko, sarili ko ‘yung na-stop
“Pag pasok pa lang ng game, parang ‘di ko ramdam na magaan
‘yung katawan ko today,” he admitted. “Feeling ko, ang tight ko
ngayon, so parang pumasok sa utak ko, tapos nawala ako sa
Perez had no explanation as to why he felt that way; it just
seemed as though he woke up on the wrong side of bed on game
“Parang bigla na lang dumating na pumasok sa utak ko,
na-pressure ako, parang ganoon,” he said. “Hindi naman every
game, pasko eh. ‘Di naman laging pasko.”
The good news for Perez is that their season does not end with
the loss to San Beda. He still has an opportunity to make up
for his poor play in the Final 4, where they will be matched up
against the Letran Knights — one of the three teams to beat
them in Season 94.
“May bawi naman ‘yan,” said Perez.
“Lahat naman ng player, dumadaan sa ganitong sitwasyon,” he
also said. “So ang gagawin ko na lang is, i-accept ko ‘yun and
focus na lang sa next game namin.”
Already, he is looking forward to the semifinals — the first
time that Lyceum will go through that phase of the tournament.
Last year, they memorably completed an 18-0 sweep of the
eliminations to advance outright to the Finals, where they were
swept by San Beda.
“Sa aming lahat, excited kaming lahat na maglaro sa Final 4,”
said Perez. “Mas maganda itong ganito, kasi kailangan mong
dumaan sa mga adversities.”
“Mino-motivate namin ‘yung isa’t isa,” he added. “Sa mga
ganitong talo, hindi kami nagsisisihan. Wala kaming ibang
sinisisi, wala kaming excuses. Siguro, doon ‘yung na-build na
culture sa Lyceum. Kahit na natatalo, walang nagsisisihan,
“Kaya mas maganda mag-move forward kung ‘yun ‘yung na-build na
culture sa amin.”
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