Perez looms as top choice

CJ Perez of Lyceum of the Philippines University makes his move against Unique Naboa of College of St. Benilde in this file photo in the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament. Perez looms as the top overall pick in the Philippine Basketball Association Annual Rookie Draft on 14 December. ROMAN PROSPERO

Barring any last-minute change of heart, Columbian is all set to tap CJ Perez as top overall pick when the Annual Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Rookie Draft fires off on 16 December.

Reports have it that Columbian governor Bobby Rosales and head coach Johnedel Cardel are eyeing the peppery playmaker, who is set to see action for Lyceum of the Philippines University in the best-of-three finals of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)men’s basketball tournament.

Rosales said they have no plan of trading Perez contrary to their previous moves of shipping away their past picks, including Filipino-German banger Christian Standhardinger, for less heralded players.

Cardel, meanwhile, stressed that he’s looking at Perez as the energy guy who can play either the guard or forward position.

“CJ is more like an Abueva, an energy guy who can play either the 2 or 3 position. So if I were to choose, I’ll pick CJ,” Cardel said in a report by the league’s official broadcast partner,

But the possibility of emerging as top of the class doesn’t pressure Perez.

His agent, Marvin Espiritu, assured that the 6-foot-3 guard is cool as ice and is just waiting for word from any team who wants his services.

“No pressure. CJ is not feeling pressure at all,” said Espiritu, adding that they would file his draft application any time from now.

“Actually, he’s calm and just getting ready for the draft day.”
The upcoming draft is overflowing with talent.

Aside from Perez, also coming in with high draft stock are former University Athletic Association of the Philippines Most Valuable Player (MVP) Ray Parks and San Beda University stalwart Robert Bolick.

Parks is tipped to challenge Perez on the top spot due to his vast experience in local and international tournaments, including stint in the Southeast Asian Games and other FIBA tournaments.

Bolick, on the other hand, used to be a benchwarmer at De La Salle University, but blossomed into one of the best players in amateur basketball due to his speed, maturity and high basketball IQ.

Still, Perez is not expecting.

“He’s just excited. He’s getting ready, of course. He’s not expecting, but it would be a blessing if he gets chosen on top,” Espiritu said, speaking on behalf of the reigning NCAA MVP.

“As of now, he’s focusing first in the upcoming NCAA finals. That’s his priority as of the moment. But he will be ready on draft day.”

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