April 14, 2024

Returning to roots: CJ Perez, Jericho Cruz back to familiar places in FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers

Returning to roots: CJ Perez, Jericho Cruz back to familiar places in FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers
Back for another tour of duty are Gilas Pilipinas' CJ Perez and Guam’s Jericho Cruz. | Photo (c) FIBA

San Miguel's CJ Perez and Jericho Cruz took the term "basketball is life" quite literally as both Beermen are now set to represent Gilas Pilipinas and Guam in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers, just a week after their sweet title conquest in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.


Perez, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup BPC and Finals MVP, is in Hong Kong now as Gilas Pilipinas will face a Duncan Reid-led squad tonight in the first window of the tournament.



Coincidentally, Perez was born in the northern part of Kowloon in Hong Kong to a Filipina mother and Nigerian father.


Perez's mom brought him to the Philippines, particularly in Bautista, Pangasinan. 


 The "Predator" revealed he was looking forward to the chance to play in Hong Kong, and how he is still in awe of playing in the same place he was born. 


 "Although I didn't grew up there, I can't believe that I'm really about to play where I was born," Perez told FIBA, sharing how he hopes to meet HK-based relatives.


"Some of them are also from where I'm from, as well as my mom's friends from way back," he added. "Hopefully, I'd be able to hang out with them even just for a bit."


Perez joins a familiar Gilas squad bannered by a mix of young and veteran mainstays like Justin Brownlee, Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto, and Kevin Quiambao under coach Tim Cone, as they aim to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup next year, and maybe soon in the Olympics.




Cruz was born in the Northern Marianas Islands.


Guam is grouped alongside China, Japan, and Mongolia in Group C. 


 Cruz, together with veterans Earnest Ross, Jr., Jonathan Galloway, Tai Wesley, and Curtis Washington, headline a Guam side wh swept the Asia Cup 2025 Pre-Qualifiers with a 5-0 record.


[ALSO READ: FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers: Gilas Pilipinas viewing guide]


This Thursday, Guam will visit Japan for a game at 6:05 p.m.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong hosts the Philippines later at 8 p.m. This game will be aired on One Sports, One Sports+, RPTV, and the Pilipinas Live app.


(With reports from FIBA)