By JONAS TERRADO
CJ Perez finally got his way over former college rival Robert Bolick after San Miguel Beer swept NorthPort in their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal series.
The Beermen put an end to the Batang Pier’s impressive run with a 100-95 win which prompted a change in roles for Perez and Bolick, who met twice for the NCAA championship.
Perez led Lyceum of the Philippines to back-to-back finals appearances in 2017 and 2018, only to lose both times to San Beda behind Bolick’s heroics.
That is why Perez couldn’t help but provide a playful jab at Bolick, who would later become his teammate with Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
“Unang-una kong bawi kay Robert ngayon, so maraming salamat Robert at napagbigyan mo ko,” said Perez, who was also happy to see Bolick produce his best form yet after a lengthy absence due to an ACL injury that cut short his rookie campaign in 2019.
“Sobrang happy ako na nakarating ako rito, sobrang happy rin ako kay Robert na maganda yung nilaro niya,” he added.
Perez’s 21 points in Game 2 put the Beermen in a best-of-seven semifinal duel with the TNT Tropang Giga while Bolick and the Batang Pier are heading home after finishing fifth in the eliminations despite a 1-3 start.
Bolick didn’t leave Bacolor without a lasting impact, particularly his deep three late in Game 1 that almost gave NorthPort the victory.
He struggled a bit with his shooting in SMB’s series-clincher by going 6-of-18 from the field, but his 14 assists kept NorthPort in contention to force a deciding third game until the comeback try fell short.
SAN MIGUEL 100 — Perez 21, Tautuaa 17, Lassiter 15, Fajardo 12, Romeo 11, Ross 11, Santos 11, Cabagnot 2, Pessumal 0.
NORTHPORT 95 — Slaughter 27, Malonzo 17, Onwubere 14, Bolick 12, Taha 9, Balanza 8, Rike 5, Doliguez 3, Elorde 0, Ferrer 0.
Quarters: 17-19, 46-39, 74-66, 100-95.