‘Aggressive’ CJ Perez finds groove to help fuel San Miguel Beer rout of TNT
MANILA, Philippines–Shackled to no more than 13 points in the past three meetings, CJ Perez on Friday regained his groove in style, leading San Miguel’s charge in the 114-96 victory that sent the PBA Philippine Cup finalé with TNT to a no-tomorrow Game 7.
Perez turned in 20 points to put the defending champions on the back seat for most of Game 6 at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
“I’ve been telling myself that my being aggressive on offense and defense are what have been lacking in my past games,” the former PBA scoring champion told reporters on his way out of the venue.
“That’s about it. The adjustments coach put me through worked,” he went on.
Perez was among the many heroes in the gallant stand that put the vaunted squad a win from reclaiming a crown the franchise once held for five straight editions of the tournament.
“I felt really off, like it was not normal,” Perez said of his previous scoring slump in the series. “It really felt like I wasn’t playing my game. So I just focused and recognized what’s been happening. That helped a lot.”
And now he’s back on his feet, the former Rookie of the Year said he’s ready do much more in the the battle that matters most: Sunday’s winner-take-all.
“We have to. We have to raise our intensity on defense, on offense. TNT’s a tough assignment. (The Tropang Giga) are good. Well-coached, even. So we have to really raise our level of play,” Perez said.
The spitfire guard knows it’s one thing to elevate his game, but it’s another to do it with TNT’s cornerstone Jayson Castro back after recuperating from a rolled right ankle.
“I think we’ll have to have the same game plan. But yeah, Jayson Castro is always a tough match-up,” he said.
Perez will have no shortage in motivation as he is also gunning for his first-ever crown in the pro league.
“I’ve got nothing to lose. We all just have to give our best,” he said.