Columbian coach Johnedel Cardel has labeled CJ Perez as a game-changer and the top pick overall in the last rookie draft did not disappoint.
Perez scored a team-high 26 points in his pro debut in leading the Dyip to a 124-118 shocker over four-time defending champion San Miguel Beer Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Jackson Corpuz also played a stellar role with 21 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks on June Mar Fajardo, while Reden Celda and former Beermen Rashawn McCarthy and Keith Agovida had some clutch shots of their own.
Clearly, however, it was Perez coming alive in the second half for 24 of his points that fully stirred Columbian to survive and match its number of wins in last season’s edition of the tourney.
“Talagang pinu-push ko siya kasi very tight sya in the first half,” said Dyip coach Johnedel Cardel of the 25-year-old from Lyceum of the Philippines University.
The loss is a bitter one for SMB, which came to the game heavily favored to win, but seemed to have been taken aback by the fierce stance put up by the perennial cellar-dweller.
Columbian 124 – Perez 26, Corpuz 21, Celda 15, Reyes 12, Camson 11, Escoto 11, McCarthy 8, Agovida 8, King 7, Calvo 3, Cahilig 2, Khobuntin 0, Faundo 0, Gabriel 0.
San Miguel 118 – Santos 34, Lassiter 25, Fajardo 16, Cabagnot 12, Nabong 11, Romeo 7, Standhardinger 6, Zamar 3, Ross 2, Pessumal 2, Tubid 0.
Quarterscores: 24-27, 51-54, 85-86, 124-118.