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What if CJ played in Game One of NCAA 94 Finals, Perez and Bolick look back

The Finals of the NCAA Season 94 Seniors Basketball Tournament was supposed to be an epic. 

In one corner, San Beda University was looking for a three-peat. On the other, Lyceum of the Philippines University was hoping to topple a dynasty.

Besides this, it was Robert Bolick facing CJ Perez for one last time in the collegiate ranks.

“Papatumbahin namin ‘yung San Beda — ‘yun ‘yung balak namin,” recalled Perez during the second episode of The Prospects Pod, presented by SMART Sports.

“Nung Season 93, hindi namin kinaya. Nag 18-0 nga kami, pero na-sweep din kami sa Finals. Kaya sabi ko nun, ‘Mahirap talaga talunin ‘yung San Beda, pero muntik-muntik naman nung unang Finals namin’.”

But then disaster struck Lyceum days prior to Game One.

Perez threw his name into the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft without notifying the management committee of the Grand Old League. It resulted in a one-game suspension.

NCAA-94-Finals-SBU-vs.-LPU-Perez-9481 What if CJ played in Game One of NCAA 94 Finals, Perez and Bolick look back Basketball LPU NCAA SBC  - philippine sports news

“Nasa dorm ako, parang nag-announce nila… Umaga ‘yun eh nag-announce. Siyempre ako, natulog ako nang maaga, mindset pa rin ako eh. Pagtapos sabi nung boss namin, ‘Hindi ka daw pwede maglaro.’ Sabi ko, ‘Hala! Ready na ako eh’,” bared Perez.

“Tapos umupo lang ako sa couch, manonood ng laro. Nakailang beer nga ako eh habang nanonood eh.”

San Beda whipped Lyceum in Game One, 73-60, before going for the kill in Game Two with a 71-56 victory.

But what if Perez was not suspended?

NCAA-94-Finals-SBU-vs.-LPU-Bolick-9414 What if CJ played in Game One of NCAA 94 Finals, Perez and Bolick look back Basketball LPU NCAA SBC  - philippine sports news

“Mag-iiba ‘yung laro, siyempre,” said Bolick.

“Kasi sa part din namin wala na siya, so kami wala na, tapos na. Tapos na ‘yung laban.”

“Siguro, mas ginanahan pa ‘yung mga kasama ko kasi parang nung natambakan na nung Game One, Game Two parang… Nanginig na ‘yung mga tuhod eh. Parang ganon. Tapos pressure-pressure na sa kanila kasi ‘yun nga, tambak nung first game tapos Robert Bolick pa kalaban,” added Perez.

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But for Bolick, he felt confident that with or without Perez, the Red Lions had the upper hand over the Pirates in Season 94.

“‘Yung pangalawa kasi, hindi na sila masyadong intact eh. Tingin ko lang outside as an opponent, parang hindi sila masyado intact na,” opined Bolick.

“Parang talagang close group masyado ‘yung first year nila — kailangang humanap kami ng paraan para makabutas sa team na ito. ‘Yung pangalawang taon, parang hindi na sila masyado ano, tapos na-suspended pa siya, so sa isip-isip ko, ‘Naku, mentally defeated sila, accept defeat na, affected na masyado’.”

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