MANILA, Philippines—CJ Perez’ first few games with San Miguel put him in an all too unfamiliar situation.
From being the undisputed star at Terrafirma, the 2019 top overall pick now comes off the bench for the Beermen as part of San Miguel head coach Leo Austria’s design.
Austria decided to start Perez in the team’s opener against Meralco in the PBA Philippine Cup, a game they lost 93-87, but changed his mind and now designated the one-time scoring champion as the team’s main man off the bench.
That tweak resulted in three straight wins for the Beermen as they enter the conference’s resumption with a 3-1 record.
“So far he’s okay, he still has his scoring but the last three games he had to come off the bench,” said Austria. “And it turned out very good for everybody because we have high bench points and I guess my hunch was right.”
Perez was the league’s leading scorer in the 2020 Philippine Cup putting up 24.4 points a game while converting 44 percent of his 19 attempts per outing on more than 37 minutes of play.
As the Beermen’s sixth man, though, Perez saw his scoring dip to 17.5 points but he maintained his shooting percentage, which is now at 45%, despite shooting an average of 14 times a game.
Perez’ minutes, too, didn’t take much of a slide as he plays around 32 minutes per contest.
“Every player in this team deserves to be in the starting lineup but I’m happy because they can deliver whether I use them as a starter or a substitute,” said Austria. “I told them that whether you’re a starter or a substitute, you will get your minutes.”
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