The elimination round finale of reigning NCAA Seniors Basketball Most Valuable Player CJ Perez was disappointing to say the least. And even he would say the same thing.
There was much hype heading into the Lyceum Pirates’ final elimination round showdown with the San Beda Red Lions. Many expected an epic match-up between Perez and his arch-rival Robert Bolick.
For his part, Bolick delivered, finishing with 18 points, five rebounds, and two assists. However, Perez struggled, tallying his season-low nine points on 4-of-9 shooting and committing three turnovers.
The 24-year-old native of Pangasinan – who was averaging 19.4 points prior to this game – admitted that the pressure caught up to him this time around as he badly wanted to have a statement win over San Beda.
“Actually ‘di sila ang naka-stop sa akin. Sarili ko ang ini-stop ko. Pagpasok pa lang ng game, ‘di ko ramdam na magaan ang katawan ko today, ang tight ko ngayon. Pumasok sa utak ko at nawala ako sa focus,” shared Perez after Lyceum’s 68-75 loss to San Beda, Thursday evening.
“Ewan ko din eh. Parang bigla na lang dumating na may pumasok sa utak ko at na-pressure ako.”
But it was not just Perez who struggled in the game.
The Pirates shot just 4-of-19 from the foul stripe – the their lowest for the season. Moreover, Lyceum tallied a season-low three blocks.
Even if he could not find his shot to drop, the 6-foot-3 utility guard anchored Lyceum’s defense to help trim a once-20 point advantage down to just five. However, the lead was just too much to overcome.
“Andito naman yung tunay na CJ Perez, kaso yun nga. ‘Di ko naman mabubuhat yung team kung ako lang talaga,” he said. “Kailangan mag-work together talaga. Wala lang talaga ako. Sabihin nating bad day kaya ganoon. I’m okay naman.”
And he can’t wait back to get back on the court when Lyceum face the Letran Knights in the Final Four.
“May bawi naman yan eh. ‘Di naman every game Pasko eh. Lahat ng players, dumadaan sa ganitong sitwasyon. Ang gagawin ko na lang i-accept yun at focus sa next game namin.”