CJ Perez was the lone member of Gilas Pilipinas who did not see a second of action in the 87-81 loss to the Dominican Republic on the Fiba World Cup’s opening night Friday.
But that was neither by design nor caused by negligence.
“It’s just the ebb and flow of the ballgame,” national coach Chot Reyes said when asked about the playing time of the former Philippine Basketball Association scoring champion.
“I felt the guys who were inside were playing really well and we were right in the ball game. We need CJ when we have a scoring drought and we need to get something happen on the court,” he said.
“We were fine all the way through until the last 5 minutes and when Jordan (Clarkson) fouled out,” Reyes said.
Perez checking in at a time when Gilas is without its foremost weapon seems to make sense to many, but Reyes felt that such a move wouldn’t be that effective.
“At that point, I thought it was too late to insert somebody who was ice-cold from the bench,” Reyes said.
Perez’ wife Sienna was clearly frustrated over her husband’s “DNP” status that night. “It is what it is,” she wrote on a Facebook post, but not without listing the San Miguel star’s individual accolades.
Barring any complications, Perez should have his moment this Sunday against Angola, a team that frustrated him and the 2019 team that competed in the World Cup in Foshan, China.
Perez was big in that 84-81 overtime loss and being able to suit up on the game set 8 p.m. should cut a path for payback.
“When the situations call for it, I’m pretty sure in the next game, CJ—and even Kai (Sotto)—should be ready,” Reyes said.
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