Is CJ Perez the missing piece that will help San Miguel solve the Grand Slam puzzle?
For Beermen head coach Leo Austria, there is no guarantee that their acquisition of the former Rookie of the Year will lead them to the Triple Crown — a feat they’ve tried to accomplish twice in the last five years, but to no avail.
The league’s winningest franchise had the opportunity to make history both in 2017 and 2019. It ruled the first two conferences, but the Governors’ Cup has proven to be its bane as SMB bombed out of the quarters on both occasions.
“It’s hard to tell, ano,” the four-time Coach of the Year told Radyo5’s Power and Play with Kom Noli Eala, Saturday.
“Dahil maraming beses na kami nag-try and then ganun din kalakas ang lineup, pero hindi nangyari.”
Perez, 27, became a Beerman back in January via trade with Terrafirma, adding more firepower into a star-studded crew bannered by June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, and Terrence Romeo.
Austria and Co. have yet to witness how the Gilas Pilipinas stalwart meshes with his much more distinguished teammates since they have yet to begin scrimmages, but they like what they’re seeing thus far.
“During individual workouts — hindi kami nagkakaroon ng scrimmages — makikita mo talaga kung bakit naging CJ Perez ‘yan at bakit member ng Gilas,” said the 63-year-old,
“Talagang one of the best in the PBA.”
Among the things that Austria admires about the NCAA Season 93 Most Valuable Player with Lyceum is the energy he brings, which he said would definitely be of use for a veteran-laden squad like the Beermen.
“Unang-una ‘yung kanyang energy. Alam naman natin kami medyo pagdating sa energy, nagpe-pacing lagi kami dahil itong mga nakaraang season we’re always in the playoffs or finals, napapagod din ang mga players eh.
“Kaya maganda ‘yung pagdating niya dahil ‘yung kanyang energy is talagang kakaiba. And alam natin na he wants to win a championship so wala kang makikita na magre-relax itong batang ito,” he said.
But on top of it all, really, is Perez’s willingness to take a backseat to his seniors — this, after serving as the main man of Terrafirma during his time there that saw him become the league’s scoring king in the last two seasons.
“Of course, he’s joining a team with a lot of pedigree, alam naman natin mga kasama niya e mga superstar din. Ang maganda sa kanya nag-take a backseat siya, talagang naga-adjust siya.”