MANILA, Philippines – CJ Pérez’s first games with San Miguel put him in an all-too-unknown situation.
From being the undisputed star at Terrafirma, the first overall pick of 2019 now comes off the bench for the Beermen as part of the design of San Miguel head coach Leo Austria.
Austria decided to start Perez in the team’s first match against Meralco in the PBA Philippine Cup, a game they lost 93-87, but changed his mind and now designated the lone scoring champion as the team’s leading man from the bench. .
That change resulted in three straight wins for the Brewers as they entered the conference resume with a 3-1 record.
“So far he’s fine, he still has his score, but the last three games he had to come off the bench,” Austria said. “And it was very good for everyone because we have high points on the bench and I think my hunch was correct.”
Pérez was the league’s leading scorer at the 2020 Philippine Cup, scoring 24.4 points per game and converting 44 percent of his 19 attempts per start over 37 minutes of play.
However, as the Beermen’s sixth man, Perez saw his score drop to 17.5 points, but he maintained his shooting percentage, which is now 45%, despite shooting an average of 14 times per game.
Pérez’s minutes didn’t slide much either, as he plays around 32 minutes per game.
“All the players on this team deserve to be in the starting lineup, but I am happy because they can deliver whether I use them as a starter or as a substitute,” Austria said. “I told them that whether you are a starter or a substitute, you will get your minutes.”
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