2018 PBA Draft Baller Breakdown: CJ Perez
Anton Roxas on Dec 15, 2018 04:38 PM
CJ Perez not only led LPU to back-to-back NCAA Finals appearances, but also paced the league in scoring and steals.
Before CJ Perez arrived in Lyceum of the Philippines University, the team had never reached the Final Four of the NCAA. When Perez finally suited up, he steered the Pirates to the Finals for two straight years. Can the Season 93 MVP become a game changer in the PBA and turn around the fortunes of a struggling franchise?
Perez comes from humble beginnings in his hometown of Pangasinan. He learned the game playing on the street before coming to Manila in 2011 to play organized basketball for the first time in San Sebastian College-Recoletos. This was where his skills started to get polished as he would play for the Golden Stags and earn the nickname “Baby Beast” because of the similarities he had with former SSC-R Star Calvin Abueva. Like “The Beast”, Perez is very aggressive, especially on the offensive end. He attacks the rim relentlessly, a quality that Ateneo saw fit for their program when they recruited him to transfer. Perez seemed all set to replace the graduating Kiefer Ravena, but as fate would have it, it was not meant to be. LPU head coach Topex Robinson picked Perez up and let him run wild. Perez led the NCAA in scoring for two seasons (19.3 points per game in Season 93, 18.7 points per game in Season 94), proving that he could really have been the new go-to-guy for the Blue Eagles. Instead, he breathed life into LPU and inspired the entire community to believe that they can dream too.
The best way to limit Perez’s scoring is to make him take the outside shot. Perez was only a 26.2% three-point shooter and rarely takes threes off the dribble. It’s an aspect of his game that he has not developed because of his athleticism and his ability to explode to the basket. With his physical attributes, he could also work on becoming a better defender.
Although he was tops in the league in steals (3.3 steals per game), Perez was not known as a player who would try to lock-down the opposing team’s best player. Another area of improvement could be from a leadership standpoint. Perez is not much of a talker and usually just lets his game speak. While that could be enough to win games in the collegiate level, in the pros it’s going to require more responsibilities.
To truly promote progress, a projected number one pick like Perez must continue developing himself to become the total package of athleticism, skill and leadership.