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As Fajardo is absent, Perez leads SMB to a weekly PBA player citation

When main man June Mar Fajardo was injured, San Miguel Beer needed a go-to player, and CJ Perez stepped up to lead the team to the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals.

A pair of big wins by the Beermen, bridging the tail end of eliminations and the beginning of conference playoffs, were anchored by the Pangasinan native who took the leadership baton and owned it during a crucial time.

Perez led the second-seeded Beermen to their third consecutive winning week without Fajardo, who was out with an MCL sprain on Sunday.

As a result of his stellar play in three matches between March 8 and March 19 for Gilas Pilipinas, he was named the Cignal Play-PBA Press Corps Player of the Week.

San Miguel Beermen ride on June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez

A 26-point, 12-rebound, five-assist, five-steal performance by Perez helped twice-to-beat SMB defeat Converge in the quarterfinals to set up a matchup with Ginebra, the reigning champion.

The former NCAA MVP from Lyceum already earned the Beermen’s No. 2 seed by impressing in their last two elimination round contests.

During Wednesday’s 120-106 win over NLEX, the top draft pick scored 23 points, grabbed seven boards, assisted four times, and stole two times.

In Friday’s 129-116 rout of Rain or Shine, Perez rebounded from a short break and put up 20 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and three steals.

As a result, Perez was able to play for Gilas in the last window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifications, the East Asia Super League (EASL) Champions Week in Japan, and last weekend’s PBA All-Star game in Iloilo.

A group of print and online media regularly covering the PBA gave him the weekly honor alongside San Miguel teammate Vic Manuel, TNT’s Roger Pogoy, and Barangay Ginebra’s Christian Standhardinger.

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