When CJ Perez transferred to the Lyceum Pirates three years ago, there was renewed hope in the community. The once-floundering program finally had a huge boost in the 6-foot-1 utility guard.
And right from the get-go he delivered, not showing any rust even as he sat out three years.
In his first year, he led the Pirates to an immaculate regular season sweep and a second-place finish. Then during the off-season, Perez took the forefront in lifting the Pirates to the 2017 PCCL National Championship and the 2018 PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup.
An NCAA championship was the only thing missing. However, it would be the only thing that eluded him, as he once again suffered another sweep to the San Beda Red Lions on Monday evening to close this chapter of his young career.
Still, Perez did not look at it as a loss, saying that his three-year stay in Lyceum has only brought him joy and good memories.
“Isang wonderful na journey para sa amin, lalo na para sa akin kasi nakapaglaro ako sa Lyceum. Isang karangalan na nakapaglaro ako sa Lyceum at nakalaro ako sa Finals,” shared the former league Most Valuable Player.
“Sobrang saya ko na nakasama ako sa LPU.”
Safe to say, he has no regrets.
“Walang regret as long as binigay namin ang very best namin. They are the better team, sabi nga ni coach, so walang regret na natalo kami ngayon.”
Though he has no trophy to leave with Lyceum, his legacy is safe.
Before, Lyceum were not a hotbed for recruits. But because of the culture he helped build, student-cagers like Jayson David, Alvin Baetiong, Renzo Navarro, among others, have decided to make the Laurel-owned institution their home.
“Sabi ko nga blessing sa amin is we’re gonna produce a legit first round, first pick. That’s where we’re excited about,” shared fourth-year Lyceum head coach Topex Robinson.
“Yung blessing ng CJ sa amin is really huge for our program. Ang laking bagay nun and now, we could say that we’re a legit title contender.
“Sabi ko nga sa kanila, don’t look at us not winning the Finals, but think about being in the championship again. Hindi na yun tsamba. Ang challenge ngayon is to be there again next year. Doon na kami,” added the father-like figure to Perez.
Perez’s roller-coaster collegiate career that saw him start in San Sebastian, move to Ateneo, and end up in Lyceum has finally come to a close. For him, it was all worth it.
“Hindi naman nage-end yung journey ng basketball career ko. Congrats sa kanila kasi natuto kami as individuals and as players, and sila coach din, for sure, natuto,” he shared.
“Move on na lang ulit. Yun lang ang gagawin kaysa mag-regret.”