Things simply did not go CJ Perez’s way during the opening game of Gilas Pilipinas in the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
National team head coach Chot Reyes admitted that he did not see the need to field in the San Miguel star in the Filipino’s 87-81 loss to the Dominican Republic on Friday, August 25 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
“It was just the ebb and flow of the ball game. I felt the guys who were inside were playing really well and we were right in the ball game,” said Reyes.
Backcourt duties were split between Jordan Clarkson and Dwight Ramos, who both played more than 30 minutes, with Kiefer Ravena and Scottie Thompson providing relief.
“We need CJ when we have a scoring drought and we need to get something happen on the court.”
Since making his international debut in China four years ago, Perez has so far experienced a very different World Cup.
The cat-quick guard topped Gilas locals in scoring at the last World Cup, averaging 12.6 points per game. He was second on the team in scoring only to naturalized player Andray Blatche, who dropped 15.8 per game.
When Clarkson left the game for good due to 5 fouls with 3:30 remaining, Reyes had the option of inserting Perez into the lineup to provide some much-needed offensive spark.
After picking up two fouls early on, big man Kai Sotto joined Perez on the bench and played for only 1 minute and 13 seconds.
“At that point, I thought it was too late to insert somebody who was ice-cold from the bench. When the situation calls for it, I’m pretty sure in the next game, CJ and even Kai should be ready,” said Reyes.
Perez will get another chance to play when Gilas takes on Angola on Sunday, August 27 at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.