CJ Perez is set for NCAA return as he joined Lyceum’s practice on Monday and there’s nobody happier to see him than Pirates coach Topex Robinson, his former mentor at San Sebastian.
“The team was happy to see him there, especially me. I was happy to see him there,” Robinson, 36, told FOX Sports in a phone interview, sounding thrilled with his impending reunion with the 6-foot-2 Perez, 22, one of seven Ateneo players who failed to make the school’s academic cut this semester.
Robinson also noted Perez has yet to display his sharp form of old, having played sparingly for the Blue Eagles in the last four months, including a one-game stint in the ongoing 2016 FilOil Flying V pre-season tourney.
“Medyo wala pa siya sa kundisyon because he’s been out for a while. Four months rin daw siya halos hindi nakapaglaro. Sumabay siya sa Team A at sa halos lahat ng drills. Kumbaga he just felt his way,” said the former pro cager who concurrently serving as an assistant coach at Alaska in the pro ranks.
Aside from the usual offensive explosion he saw from the Pangasinan native during his two-year stint with the Golden Stags, highlighted by his game-averages of 17.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 2013, Robinson said he’s expecting a “more matured” version of Perez.
“I guess this time, mas mature na siya. The experience that he gained during his stint with Ateneo molded him kung ano man siya ngayon,” said Robinson.
“He knows how I coach and kung ano ang expectations ko sa kanya. I guess ‘yun ang importante sa amin nung nag-uusap kami—what do I expect from him.”
Robinson added Ateneo team manager Epok Quimpo has already assured him to release Perez’s release papers soon which could enable the versatile wingman to play for two years with the Pirates after undergoing a one-year residency.
“Though wala pa yung papers niya, I’m pretty sure that when he showed up earlier, it’s a welcome sign for us. I also asked him if he wants to play for other school and he told me that he wants to be with me. Ang mahalaga siya rin mismo may gusto. Hindi ako nagpilit sa kanya,” he concluded. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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