CJ Perez felt immensely blessed after his coronation as the 2019 PBA Rookie of the Year in the 44th annual Leo Awards, Sunday evening at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The 26-year-old was acknowledged as the best rookie of last season with per-game averages of 20.8 points, 7.4 boards, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game following his emergence as Columbian’s main man.
The Lyceum product beat NorthPort Batang Pier’s Robert Bolick; Rain or Shine Elasto Painter Javee Mocon; Alaska Aces bruiser Abu Tratter; and Ray Parks of the TNT KaTropa for the plum.
“Blessing. Blessing sa career ko. Para sa akin, result lang ‘yon ng hard work,” he said.
“Sana marami pang dumating.”
The 6-foot-1 Perez is the first player out of Lyceum to win Rookie of the Year honors since Leo Austria in 1989. He was also crowned as the new scoring king.
And for the proud Pangasinense, these accolades have only made him hungrier to prove himself more.
“Dagdag kumpiyansa para sa ‘kin kasi nakuha ko ‘yung award. Parang nadadagdagan ‘yung gutom ko sa laro ng basketball,” said the first overall pick of the Dyip in the 2018 Draft.
Now Perez plans to help Columbian reach the playoffs in this new season.
The Dyip haven’t played reached that stage since the 2016 Governors’ Cup, when it was still carrying the Mahindra Enforcer banner. They made the quarterfinals, but bowed to the Meralco Bolts.
“Gagawin namin lahat para makapasok kami sa playoffs. ‘Yun lang namin ang goal namin ngayon talaga.”