Perez, Tolentino run it back as Gilas starts campaign
A rejuvenated CJ Perez could play a key role for Gilas. —FIBA PHOTO
CJ Perez barely saw action in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup, but the spitfire guard hardly sees that as a reason not to heed another call from the Gilas Pilipinas program.
One of four late Philippine Basketball Association standouts tapped by interim management as contingency measures for the 19th Asian Games, Perez cut short his vacation to join the training squad during its short camp at Inspire Sports Academy in Laguna.
“I know we all get tired, but this is for the country,” he told the Inquirer in Filipino when asked about swiftly rejoining the program despite having spent months preparing for the World Cup and not getting that time on the floor.
“If you think about it, what our cops and soldiers do is harder. Us athletes, we are representing the country by playing basketball—a game we all love. So, what’s not to like?”
The San Miguel guard played only three games during the Philippines’ five-game homestand in the global showcase—the least for any player in the squad.
Perez said that the short break he had with his wife and two young daughters was enough to replenish his bucket of memories and more importantly, rejuvenate his body.
“That break, no matter how short it was, I think was enough for me. I know I’ll be doing some sort of catching up, but I’ve been with coach Tim (Cone) during the World Cup, so I’m not that worried.”
Arvin Tolentino, also one of the last-minute additions for the Hangzhou showcase, is also looking at his call-up the same way.
A member of the gold-reclaiming Southeast Asian Games squad but a conspicuous absentee in the 21-man pool identified for the World Cup, Tolentino did not have to think twice about showing up for training—no matter how late the notice came.
“For me, whenever I’m available, I’ll always choose to represent the Philippines. And if I’m not called up, I make sure to support the team. Now that I’m back, I promise to give my 100 percent,” he said.
“I’m a competitive guy. I like to set the bar high for myself so I’m going to give my hundred percent to be able to contribute to this team however the team needs.” INQ