CJ PEREZ has already proven that he is an elite basketball player.
Now, the 27-year old is determined to shine in the 3×3 basketball world stage.
A part of the team that won the gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Perez knows that the teams they will face in the FIBA 3×3 Olympic qualifying tournament in Graz, Austria will be more superior than the ones the country challenged two years ago.
Perez will team up with Mo Tautuaa, Joshua Munzon, and Alvin Pasaol as the Philippines vie for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics.
“Parang dun mo mararamdaman yung sobrang pisikal na 3×3. Yun yung nakikita namin sa mga scouting videos namin. Hindi ganun ka-fancy pero nakakagawa sila ng paraan. Mukang matitigas talaga yung katawan ng kalaban,” said Perez.
“Yun yung challenge sa amin kung paano makakasabay sa kanila,” he added
The recent seven-day camp they had in INSPIRE Sports Academy was important for Perez, as FIBA 3×3 pro circuit vets Munzon, Karl Dehesa and Santi Santillan were able to brace him and Tautuaa on what to expect.
“Kailangan ko pa matutunan yung larong 3×3 lalo na nandun sila Josh,” said Perez.
“Sila yung beterano sa 3×3 at halos lahat ng nakalaban namin, nakalaban na nila. Kabisado na nila paano laruin 3×3 at labanan dun sa pro circuit,” he added.
The Philippines is bracketed in Pool C along with Slovenia, France, Qatar, and the Dominican Republic.
The Slovenians will be composed of club team Piran, a team that has tussled with the Filipinos numerous times in the pro circuit. Same with the Qataris, who will have Erfan Ali Saeed, Abdulrahman Saad, Nedim Muslic, and Seydou Ndoye.
Munzon, Pasaol Dehesa, and Santillan have also seen France’s Charly Pontens during the 2019 Poitiers Challenger and Raphael Wilson during the 2019 Jeddah Masters.
The national 3×3 team will return to the Calamba bubble today to wrap-up their camp before flying to Austria.
And Perez looks to make the most out of it, relishing the opportunity of having a chance to compete in the Olympics.
“Kailangan ko i-maximize yung mga ganitong opportunity sa buhay ko, lalo ito Olympics na ang usapan. Kahit ganito kaaga, nabibigay na sa akin yung ganitong opportunity kaya i-gragrab ko siya,” the 6-foot-2 Pangasinan native said.