MANILA, Philippines – CJ Perez is among the busiest basketball players in the Philippines today, as the Columbian Dyip standout is juggling his responsibilities to his mother team as well as to Gilas Pilipinas.
Perez is preparing not just for his sophomore PBA season with the Dyip, but is also practicing with the national team for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers. As of Wednesday, he is also training with the Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 team for the FIBA Olympic qualifying tournament (OQT) in March.
The former NCAA Most Valuable Player joins Joshua Munzon, Alvin Pasaol, and Moala Tautuaa as the Philippines' representatives to the OQT. Perez and Tautuaa are part of the team that won 3x3 gold in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, while Munzon and Pasaol are the highest ranked players in the country.
"Blessings lang talaga 'yung mga dumarating na ganiyan," said Perez, who is tipped to win Rookie of the Year honors after a sensational freshman campaign for Columbian Dyip. "Siyempre, iga-grab ko 'yung opportunity na minsan lang mangyari sa buhay mo."
"Sabi nga nila, minsan ka lang maging bata, so grab it, grab ko na," he added.
Still, the numerous responsibilities can take a toll on Perez, who now trains up to three times a day. On Wednesday, he trained at the Ronac Gym in Mandaluyong with the 3x3 team, before heading to the Meralco Gym in Pasig for another practice, this time with FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers squad.
The 26-year-old guard insists that he knows how to deal with the situation.
"Siyempre, dapat magandang pahinga," said Perez. "Actually, hindi naman nagko-conflict 'yung 3x3 practice dito. Ginawa nila 'yung practice para sa akin and para kay Mo. Kami 'yung tinanong kung anong oras gusto namin."
"And 'yung Columbian naman, 'di naman ako pinagpa-practice nang ano, kasi sumusuporta naman sila sa akin," he added.
Perez said he is treasuring all the opportunities that he is getting, even if it means attending multiple practices a day. After all, playing with the 3x3 team gives him the chance to possibly play in the Tokyo Olympics – something he never even considered.
"Inisip ko lang, PBA lang muna eh," he said. "Pero nakarating ako dito. Magandang blessing."
"'Yung pagod, isipin na lang natin pagtapos na siguro," he added.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).