Top rookie pick CJ Perez leads charge as Columbian stuns San Miguel
CJ Perez said he wanted to find out what he and Columbian are made of.
The top overall pick of this season’s PBA draft got his answer when the Dyip carved out a gritty 124-118 win over San Miguel Beermen in the curtain-raiser of the 2018 Philippine Cup on Friday at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
Perez unleashed 26 points as he paired with Jackson Corpuz and Reden Celda to hand the reigning conference champions a stunning loss in the two teams’ all-Filipino debut.
“I told the boys before the game, ‘If we apply the [what we learned from] three weeks practice and the [week-long] camp, we’ll have a chance,” said Columbian coach Johnedel Cardel said in Filipino.
“The stepping-up of CJ [Perez] at the second half. He was tentative in the first half. I was pushing him, I told him to carry the team.”
Arwind Santos, San Miguel’s fourth oldest player at 37, was the spearhead of the offense Beermen that now also enjoy the services of hotshot guard Terrence Romeo. But his team-best 34 points didn’t matter against the pesky and youthful Dyip squad that even dictated the pace late in the third period.
Romeo had to sit down late in that frame following an awkward fall, and that opening was just what Perez needed as he fired the bulk of his total points all in the third. He only had two markers in the first half.
As the game approached the final minute, Rashawn McCarthy sank a tough triple to put Columbian on the driver seat, 117-113, and preserve Perez’s heroics.
This was Dyip’s first victory over the decorated Beermen in two years and in the prestigious conference.
“This is a big fish. This is San Miguel Beer. I felt that if we get this win, it will be a big boost to the boys’ confidence,” said Cardel.
Corpuz had 21 points in the affair, while Celda added 15 more.
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