May 24, 2024

PBA: 'Sobrang blessed' | CJ Perez scores triple win as San Miguel seizes 29th title

PBA:
Photo (c) Sherwin Vardeleon

On Valentine's Day, CJ Perez was joined by his beaming wife and two kids at centercourt as he collected his third trophy for the conference.

Minutes after San Miguel captured its 29th title via a 104-102 comeback over Magnolia in Game Six of the PBA season 48 Commissioner's Cup finals, Best Player of the Conference Perez was recognized as the Finals Most Valuable Player.

With his teammates rejoicing over his personal victory behind him as he hoisted his award, Perez drew near to his family as they posed for photos, his accolade now in the hands of one of his children.

“Sobrang blessed ako na sa early career ko talagang dumadating 'yung ganitong mga blessings sa akin,” said the 2018 top draft pick shortly after collecting his trifecta of victories.

[RELATED STORY: In Photos: Is CJ Perez now THE man for San Miguel Beer?]

The 30-year-old Perez averaged 18 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.2 steals in the best-of-seven showdown, including a fiery 28-point performance in the title-clincher Wednesday night.

The spitfire guard shared that the journey was not at all easy.

“Hindi naman siya dumating nang madali. Maraming pawis, maraming sama ng loob, maraming [pagsubok] ang dumating bago makuha itong mga ito,” he said.

[ALSO READ: In Photos: Raise your glass to 29-time PBA champ San Miguel]

Indeed, the Beermen had to survive a gritty Hotshots side that rose from a 0-2 series deficit to level at 2-2 and even threatened to force a sudden death in Game Six.

Last night, with Magnolia setting the pace majority of the way, Perez hardly made a difference in the first 24 minutes of action, coughing up just four points. But it was a different story after the break.

 

“Parang na-feel ko lang after that first half – nag-struggle [ako] noong first half talaga – sinabi ko sa sarili ko, sa second half, ibibigay ko ang lahat kahit pagod na pagod na ako,” said Perez. 

“Nag-focus ako kung saan ako magaling. Hindi ko na tiningnan kung saan ako mahina. Doon lang ako kumapit talaga.”

This change in mindset proved useful to Perez who churned out 24 points in the second half, including crucial baskets in the final stretch, to propel the Beermen to the victory that earned them their record-extending 29th diadem.

The job does not end there, however, for Perez who will now shift his attention to Gilas Pilipinas' build-up for the first window of the 2025 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.