ROOKIE sensation CJ Perez is making waves in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, being the top performer for Gilas so far in China.
And none could be happier than his coach at Columbian, Johnedel Cardel.
Cardel envisions Perez to bring with him the boost in morale and invaluable lessons he learned from his Worlds stint when the player returns to the Dyip for the PBA Governors Cup.
“Iyung kumpiyansa niya, experience na nakuha doon madadala niya dito,” Cardel told Malaya-Business Insight.
“Kasi iyung maging national player ka malaking bagay sa psyche ng isang player, lalo pa ganyan, World Cup pa,” added Cardel. “Kaya ‘yung expectations namin sa kanya, once na bumalik na siya dito sa Columbian, he’ll be a much better player and one of the true leaders of this team.”
Perez has already shown national coach Yeng Guiao’s decision to include him in Gilas was well-founded by averaging a team-high 15.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals coming off the bench against Italy and Serbia.
Guiao, according to Cardel, has long ago hinted at Perez being a vital cog in Gilas.
“May laro kami sa Batangas at sabi ni coach Yeng, ‘Hihiramin ko bata mo sa Gilas. Gusto ko siya, lumalaban,’” related Cardel. “Kaya ang sabi ko naman kay CJ, basta concentrate lang siya sa Gilas.”
Cardel, a former member of the Youth and Men’s national teams in the late 1980s, has also continued advising the former Lyceum of the Philippines star and the second pick overall in last year’s PBA draft.
“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘Gawin mo lahat ang dapat mong gawin,’” offered Cardel, saying he has been in constant communication with his ward through Columbian’s Viber group chats.
“Sabi ko rin, ‘Don’t mind the score, basta give your best, bigay ka ng energy sa team,’” added Cardel.
“’And always, be a good teammate to your team, win or lose.’”
Based on his performance so far, Perez has taken those words to heart.