MANILA, Philippines -- CJ Perez expressed his gratitude to the TerraFirma organization after his trade to San Miguel Beer was approved on Tuesday.
The controversial swap will see Perez suit up for the Beermen once the new PBA season starts, as he joins a loaded team that already features six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, high-scoring guard Terrence Romeo, and a veteran core that has won multiple championships.
In exchange, the Dyip received Russel Escoto, Gelo Alolino and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, as well as San Miguel's first round picks in the upcoming draft and in the 2022 draft.
"My professional career started with you. I couldn't be more thankful for the last two years," said Perez, who was taken first overall by TerraFirma in the 2018 PBA Rookie Draft.
"The friendship I made with everyone -- utility, coaching staff, and definitely my teammates. Thank you Coach John (Cardel) and Boss Bobby (Rosales) for believing in me. I appreciate your trust," he added.
Perez immediately showed that he deserved to be a franchise player in the PBA. He led the league in scoring in his first season with an average of 20.8 points per game, winning Rookie of the Year honors in the process.
He was also part of the First Mythical Team and All-Defensive Team after his freshman year, played for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup, and won a gold medal in 3x3 in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Unfortunately for Perez, he couldn't quite lead the Dyip to success in the PBA. In the 2020 All-Filipino Cup, held in a bubble in Clark, Pampanga, he once again led the league in scoring at 24.4 points per game, but TerraFirma won just once in 11 games.
"Although we came up short, our battles were always pure, with blood and sweat. I'll always remember my time as a Dyip," he said.
Rosales, TerraFirma's team governor, took the heat for the trade, as plenty of fans have questioned why TerraFirma is giving up its franchise player. The executive also made it clear that Perez, for all the team's struggles, did not demand a trade.
"Si CJ is very professional. He did not ask for a trade," Rosales said in an appearance on "The Chasedown" last weekend.
Perez is now set for a new challenge in San Miguel. The Beermen saw their run of five consecutive All-Filipino championships end last year, when they exited in the quarterfinals against Meralco.
They expect to do much better in the upcoming season, as they welcome Fajardo back from the leg injury that kept him from playing in the Philippine Cup, while also integrating Perez in the squad.