For coach’s sake, CJ hopes to plant feet on Terrafirma
SMART CLARK GIGA CITY—CJ Perez, the league’s top rookie last season, is slowly losing sight of a playoff berth.
But the talented guard said the team will still fight hard after making it a crusade to help Johnedel Cardel and Terrafirma land a first win in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup here.
“Actually, we’re now playing for coach,” he told the Inquirer on the eve of the PBA’s resumption of its bubble games, which will try to compress 30 contests in a span of nine days.
“It’s usually the coaches who are taking the heat whenever a team loses,” Perez said. “The players rarely take the blame. The coach is usually shouldering most of the pressure. And he is also the one getting an earful [from the management].”
The Dyip suffered a 116-94 rout at the hands of Phoenix on Tuesday.
Coaches inside the bubble have talked about losing with much dread as if they’re also talking about the very virus that prompted the league to stage the season inside a self-contained zone.
Meralco coach Norman Black said losses in this setup weigh heavier because, NorthPort mentor Pido Jarencio added, coping is doubly harder when there are limited ways an individual could decompress.
Imagine Cardel’s burden then. A sinking Terrafirma has yet to set foot on dry land in this tournament. But the Dyip (0-6) won’t stop trying.“Once an opportunity crops up, we’re going to really try our best,” Perez said.
Perez, if anything, has done a great job fending off the blues brought on by losing. At 26, he has the perspective most youngsters in the league can only hope to have.
“So far I’ve been thinking that this is only just basketball—that losing, just as winning, is normal,” said Perez, who is averaging 25.2 points, seven rebounds and 4.6 assists thus far.
“Yes, this is the job. But you’re also here because you love the sport, right?”