CJ Perez, the young star of struggling Terrafirma, is officially heading to San Miguel Beer where he hopes to restore its PBA dominance.
The PBA Commissioner’s Office gave the green light on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 for Terrafirma to ship Perez to SMB in exchange for three player and two first round draft picks.
Under the deal approved by the PBA’s trade committee, the Beermen sent role players Russell Escoto, Gelo Alolino and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser plus their first round selection in the draft set March 14 and another in 2022 in order to receive the 2019 Rookie of the Year.
Trade committee members composed of deputy commissioner Eric Castro, legal counsel Melvin Mendoza and technical committee members Junior Bengua, Joey Guanio and Rosc Teotico agreed on the deal after SMB added the 2022 first round pick as part of the package.
Perez’s move to the Beermen came four days after the proposed trade was submitted to the league office, much to the chagrin of fans and even former PBA commissioner Noli Eala who saw the deal as a one-side deal.
SMB didn’t have to give up anyone from its main core, namely June Mar Fajardo, Terrence Romeo, Arwind Santos, Mo Tautuaa, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross, in order to get Perez, who led the league in scoring the past two seasons.
Some fans also saw it as a redux of the 2017 trade that saw Terrafirma, then known as Kia, shipping the No. 1 overall pick in the draft to SMB, which selected talented big man Christian Standhardinger.
Terrafirma team governor Bobby Rosales, however, defended management’s decision to trade Perez, saying that it is an opportunity to complete some missing pieces on its lineup especially with a slew of talented players entering the draft set March 14.
Terrafirma owns the No. 1 pick which will likely be former ASEAN Basketball League and Chooks-to-Go 3×3 Pilipinas star Joshua Munzon. The Dyip also obtained the Beermen’s eighth pick in the Perez deal.
Perez’s addition is expected to enhance SMB’s chances of trying to regain the Philippine Cup after its reign of five straight championships ended with a quarterfinal exit inside the bubble.
With Perez likely to form a backcourt tandem with Romeo, who is also known for his ability to score, while also complementing with Fajardo and Tautuaa in the paint and getting veteran help from Santos, Cabagnot, Ross and Lassiter, the Beermen could most likely pose the strongest challenge to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s bid to retain the PBA’s crowned jewel.
For now, Perez is focused on his duties with Gilas Pilipinas for the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in Doha, Qatar later this month, before beginning his new life with the Beermen.