MANILA, Philippines – CJ Perez proved himself worthy of all the hype in just his first season in the PBA, as he emerged as the Rookie of the Year as well as a First Mythical Team selection.
Perez, who was taken No. 1 overall by Columbian Dyip in the 2018 Draft, led all locals in scoring with 20.8 points per game, making him the first rookie since Eric Menk in 1999 to become the league's scoring champion.
He also averaged 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game, and earned First Team All-Defense honors in the Leo Awards.
"Blessing sa career ko," said Perez after he took home three trophies in the awarding ceremonies last Sunday. "Para sa akin, result lang 'yon ng hard work. So sana marami pang dumating."
Perez edged out NorthPort's Robert Bolick, TNT's Ray Parks, Alaska's Abu Tratter, and Rain or Shine's Javee Mocon for the award. He and Bolick had been neck-and-neck for the Rookie of the Year plum, but Bolick suffered a knee injury in the Governors' Cup that hampered his candidacy.
"Siyempre, madaming may gustong kumuha nung award na 'yun pero sa 'kin napunta," said Perez. "And hindi naman nakuha 'yun nang madali lang."
"So pinaghirapan naman talaga," he added.
After receiving a plethora of individual awards after his freshman season in the PBA, Perez is now looking for even more success.
He hopes to sustain his level of play in Year 2, and more importantly, to elevate the Dyip to more victories.
"Ngayong season, sana mas maganda pa, and mas more na panalo," Perez said.
The Dyip failed to make the playoffs even once in the 2019 PBA season, and compiled a total record of 11-22.
A playoff breakthrough is what Perez wants for his second season.
"Gagawin namin lahat para makapasok kami sa playoffs," he said. "'Yun lang 'yung goal namin ngayon talaga, mag-playoffs."
"Basta ibibigay ko lang 'yung best ko para makakuha ng panalo," he vowed.
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