MANILA, Philippines -- San Miguel guard CJ Perez became the first player to register a triple-double in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, as he fueled the Beermen to a comfortable triumph against the Converge FiberXers on Sunday.
Perez had 15 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists and three steals in just 32 minutes as the Beermen ran away with a 111-92 rout of the FiberXers at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. The win hiked San Miguel's record to 4-1, earning for them a share of first place in the league standings.
"Sobrang happy, and siyempre maraming-maraming salamat sa coaches sa trust nila and sa teammates ko for making their shots today. Ayun, I'm grateful," Perez said of his performance.
The guard earned praise from his head coach, with Leo Austria noting that Perez was displaying a different facet of his game.
"Alam natin na he can score, he can rebound," Austria said of Perez, a former PBA scoring champion and Rookie of the Year. "But issuing an assist, for me, is a good achievement for him and a sign of maturity. He knows what to do regarding the team."
Perez credited his teammates for helping him register a triple-double and noted that they were all ready to step up against the FiberXers. The Beermen were not at full strength, as they were playing without the injured Vic Manuel and Chris Ross.
Ross' absence put more responsibility on Perez's shoulders, but it was one that the former NCAA Most Valuable Player readily embraced.
"Siyempre, willing ako mag-step up, 'yung mga teammates ko. Maraming wala sa amin pero 'yung preparation namin, 'yung preparation nila coach talagang solid," said Perez. "Nagtitiwala lang kami talaga sa isa't isa para makapanalo ngayon."
It greatly helped that Ross was present at the game and ready to give him pointers on how to handle his increased playmaking duties, said Perez. The veteran point guard suffered a knee injury in their 87-81 win against Magnolia last week and is expected to miss two to three weeks to recover.
"Pressure sa akin kasi si Chris Ross ang nagko-control ng game namin," said Perez. "Pero sabi ko nga, willing mag-step up 'yung mga ibang point guards namin. Siyempre, mahihirapan kami, pero kayang-kaya naman, for sure."
"Iniisip ko lang talaga, ma-involve 'yung mga teammates ko ngayon, and sa mga susunod pang games sana. And, ayun, na-inspire lang ako na andoon si Chris Ross sa sideline, kasi tinuturuan talaga kami, tinutulungan kami kung paano mag-facilitate and paano itakbo 'yung team," he also said.
Perez is currently averaging 17.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and a league-leading 2.8 steals per game for the Beermen.
They return to action on Wednesday against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.