AFTER landing at the top of his class, CJ Perez should be carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders.
Not that much, said Columbian coach Johnedel Cardel of the first pick overall in last month's rookie draft.
"Ayoko din namang ma-pressure din iyung bata. Ang sabi ko, go with the flow lang, iyung sistema natin tingnan mo, iyung opensa.... Binibigyan ko naman siya ng laya," related Cardel.
"Alam ko naman kung ano kaya niya. Sa mga nakikita ko sa mga practices kung ano kaya niyang ilabas. A bit confident iyung CJ, na malaki maitutulong niya sa team."
Columbian is sure to need every help it could get as it goes up against mighty San Miguel Beer Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Beermen have done some re-tooling of their own in their bid to extend their record and annex a fifth straight crown in the traditional All-Filipino tourney.
Acquired through trades are Terrence Romeo, Paul Zamar and Ronald Tubid.
Like Perez, the former three-time scoring champion is also set to go through a lot of scrutiny.
SMB coach Leo Austria said he is sure Romeo would eventually be a good fit to the team.
"Malaking adjustments ang ginawa niya. He doesn't need to score that much dahil marami na ditong scorers," bared Austria.
"Gusto lang niyang damahin kung anong klase mga teammates niya ngayon, pero so far okay naman. Tomorrow, first time siguro magiging aggressive siya."
Cardel also knows his team would come out firing on all cylinders.
"Medyo malakas na team iyang San Miguel pero sinabi ko naman sa players ko na the way we practiced at saka sa tuneup game namin kung mapantayan namin intensity ng San Miguel baka makasingit," said Cardel.
"The way na iyung depensa namin, offensive actions maganda itinatakbo. Kailangan continuous lang, sana di mabago rhythm namin."
Cardel's main worry is the chemistry within his team.
Aside from Perez, the Dyip have three other rookies in JP Calvo, Jeepy Faundo and Cyrus Tabi, as well as Keith Agovida, who was acquired from the Tubid trade.
"That's why only one tune-up lang kami and more on practices," explained Cardel.
"Nag-concentrate kami sa skills and at the same time we wanted na ma-develop iyung bonding ng team." (NC)