Reigning PBA Rookie of the Year CJ Perez is embracing his new leadership role for Terrafirma heading into the Dyip's first game against TNT Tropang Giga in the pro league's bubble on Tuesday at the Angeles University Foundation gym.
Game time is 6:45 p.m. (One Sports and PBA Rush)
Perez admitted that mentally, he'll have to be tougher in the PBA restart, knowing that expectations are high since he's coming off an impressive rookie year last season.
"Coach has been talking to me about my leadership role with the team, and that's something I've been trying to master considering that I'm still young and there are older players I will have to lead in the team," Perez said during Sunday's PBA media availability day.
The former NCAA MVP said a big part of leading the team has a lot to do with leading by example.
"I'll just have to show it in my game because if I play well, of course, that's where I can earn the respect of my teammates," explained the 26-year-old Perez, who averaged 23.18 points, 8.09 rebounds, 3.45 assists and 2.45 steals in over 39 minutes in last season's Governors' Cup.
And while the Dyip will be facing a veteran-laden Giga side that that kicked off the PBA restart with a 100-95 come-from-behind win over Alaska on Sunday, Perez is confident of his team's chances.
Part of that has to do with having a new and explosive partner in last year's top rookie pick Roosevelt Adams for the PBA All-Filipino Cup restart.
Adams, listed at 6-5, is no stranger to to-level competitions, having played for Mighty Sports in the team's various international sojourns, including the Dubai International tournament.
"I'm excited to have with us Roosevelt in the team. Practice has been good. And I think it's an advantage for us that we're a young team," said Perez.
Terrafirma coach John Cardel agreed with Perez.
"One of our advantages is we have a lot of young guys. We're like a run-and-gun team. We just have to play, get the ball and go for easy layup, pass the ball, rotate the ball and locate the shooters," shared Cardel. "We have to play run and gun in order to compete in this league."
For his part, Adams vows to do everything he can to help Terrafirma win in the PBA bubble.
"I want to do as much as I can for the team to win," stressed the College of Idaho product. "I know in the past, we missed the playoffs. But I think I can help the team get over the hump."
Terrafirma will be facing a TNT side that saw Roger Pogoy explode for a new PBA career-high 45 points, incuding 10 three-point shots.