CJ Perez praised the way CEU defended him during the Zark’s-Lyceum Jawbreakers’ clash with the Scorpions Tuesday as it led to a dismal shooting night and ultimately an 85-91 loss that snapped their four-game winning streak.
The six-foot-two guard finished with 18 points, but made just seven of his 20 attempts from the floor. He missed two triples and two freebies in the game’s final three minutes after nailing a trey that made it 84-all with 3:03 left.
“Pinaghandaan nila talaga ako,” said Perez, who also had eight rebounds, after the bout at the Marikina Sports Center.
“Pinaghandaan talaga nila siguro na ako yung titira [sa dulo]. Kailangan ko talaga pagtrabahuhan yun.”
Another factor that contributed to the defeat was the absence of Mike Nzeusseu. The Cameroonian student-athlete suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and still played until midway of the second, but sat out for good after that.
Without Nzesseu manning the middle, Centro Escolar’s own foreign student-athlete Rodrigue Ebondo feasted, finishing with 33 points on 54 percent shooting along with 20 rebounds, three assists, two steals, anf two blocks.
“Siyempre, si Mike yun e. Madami siyang naitutulong,” said the reigning NCAA Most Valuable Player. “Pero hindi naman pwedeng mado-down na kami ‘pag wala si Mike.”
Asked if this setback was a result of the Pirates’ busy schedule as of late after playing in the Philippine Collegiate Champions League — and eventually emerged as national champions — Perez said that it shouldn’t be an excuse.
“Siguro andun na yun. Pero wala naman sa isip namin yun, na natalo kami dahil pagod kami,” added the 23 for 2023 cadet.
“‘Di kami mageexcuse. Kailangan lang namin matutunan kung paano tapusin yung laro.”
Still, Perez tipped his hat to the ever-competitive Scorpions, who have improved to 3-0 and have become the only undefeated team in this 2018 D-League Aspirant’s Cup.
“Mas better lang talaga sila sa amin,” he said. “Dikit naman yung laro, nung end-game lang nagkatalo.
“We learn from it na lang. Great experience yun para sa’min.”