|If not for a huge slip-up late in the game, CJ Perez would have been more stellar against Angola. FIBA|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--In just his rookie season as a professional basketball player, CJ Perez has played as if he has been in the PBA for a long period already.
He has been Columbian's steady force offensively, easily becoming a prime candidate for Rookie of the Year.
His impressive game spilled to Foshan as he has surprisingly become Gilas Pilipinas Men's leading scorer in the FIBA World Cup.
But in only one single play, Perez somehow showed that he is, after all, still a freshman in the play-for-pay ranks.
With 5.2 seconds left in regulation of Gilas Men's game against Angola at the Foshan International Sports and Cultural Arena, Perez, who just earlier in the game drilled a three-pointer that forced a 73-all tie, had a chance to score the walk-off to finally give them the win.
But he, apparently unaware of the time left, milked some time, and he, finally realizing it, had no choice to fire a deep triple from almost halfcourt that completely missed the target.
That proved costly as Angola eventually escaped in overtime.
[Related Story: Angola survives Gilas Men in OT thriller]
Perez admitted his fault in the botched play, which was in a way reminiscent of JR Smith's own endgame blunder in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals between Cleveland and Golden State.
"I was supposed to drive that, but maybe [I still have the] lack of experience," Perez said in the post-game presser.
Still, save for that endgame letdown, Perez has been consistent for Gilas Men, and he has Coach Yeng Guiao to thank for.
"I feel the trust of Coach Yeng, so I'll give him the credit. I owe it to Coach Yeng," Guiao further said.
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