CJ Perez was just a late addition to Gilas Pilipinas Men’s pool for the FIBA World Cup last year, as he and Robert Bolick were initially brought in to provide extra warm bodies to practice.
Since then, the PBA Rookie of the Year race frontrunner has had several opportunities to don the national colors.
Just a few months after the global basketball spectacle, Perez was named to the Gilas 3×3 squad that dominated the 30th Southeast Asian Games en route to clinching the gold medal.
Then last January, the face of the Columbian Dyip made the Nationals’ 24-man roster for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers, set later this February.
For the proud son of Bautista, Pangasinan, he sees this as the by-product of his hard work.
“Parang ‘yung hard work nasuklian lang,” said Perez moments after Gilas’ practice on Thursday at the Moro Lorenzo Gym in Katipunan, Quezon City.
“Late call dun sa World Cup, and then sa three-on-three.”
As if not enough, Perez has also been given another chance to wave the Philippine flag in another tilt.
Along with SEAG teammates Mo Tautuaa, Chris Newsome, and Jason Perkins the 6-foot-2 guard has been added to the pool for the 2020 FIBA 3×3 Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Perez said that they are still waiting for the start of their preparations for the OQT, but what’s certain is that he will have himself a busy schedule in the coming weeks with national team duties.
It may be exhausting, but the cager out of Lyceum of the Philippines feels just extremely honored to play. He also declared that his commitment to serving flag and country will never waver.
“Sobrang blessing ‘to sa ‘kin kasi, kumbaga, masasabi kong dagdag sa resume ko as a basketball player,” said the 26-year-old Perez. “Magandang opportunity ulit ‘to para sa career ko.
“Ibibigay ko ‘yung best ko siyempre para sa country. Hindi ako titigil i-represent ang country hangga’t merong invites.”