Johnedel Cardel believes Columbian is a playoff contender

With sophomore CJ Perez blossoming into one of the league’s top players and talented recruits like Fil-Am top rookie pick Roosevelt Adams coming in, Columbian Dyip coach Johnedel Cardel feels they have the tools to score a breakthrough in the PBA’s 45th seasom.

“Medyo malalim ang bench namin because of the addition of rookies like si Adams and two Letran boys (Christian) Balagasay and (Bob Bon) Batiller and of course more nag-improve ang mga locals like Eric Camson, kaya I think this All-Filipino sana makapag-quarterfinals kami or better,” said Cardel.

Perez quickly assumed the role of the face of Columbian in 2019, helping the team improve from six wins in Season 43 to 11 wins in the next. Along the way, he emerged as PBA’s top gunner with a 20.8 point average which he complemented with 7.4 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals. 

For the coming Philippine Cup hostilities, the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors will have able hands led by top rookie pick Adams, who caught everyone’s eye when he torched the hoops with nine triples and 33 points in an MVP performance during the PBA Draft Combine.

The two showed a glimpse of their deadly partnership in the Dyip’s 94-84 win over Korean team Dankook University in one of their first tuneups together with Perez firing 25 and Adams sniping 18.

“He’s like CJ, very athletic. Roosevelt can shoot from the outside and can defend. I like this guy, mabait, coachable, he’s willing to compete. Sabi ko kahit rookie ka, don’t think na you’re a rookie. Iyan din ang sinabi ko kay CJ Perez before. Kapag magkasama sila sa loob, fast game kami. Maganda, I’m really excited,” said Cardel.

Perez shares his excitement not only for Adams but for all the new players.

“Sobrang excited ako kasi nakita ko kung paano sila maglaro, nakita ko sa practice yung sipag nila and nakita ko na excited sila na ipakita ito sa PBA,” said the Dyip ace.

The addition of Adams and Co. adds depth to the Dyip, who went one win short of making last year’s Philippine Cup quarterfinals.

“For this conference, we have a big chance kasi last All-Filipino, maganda ang pinakita namin; kahit hindi malalim ang bench, muntik na kaming pumasok,” said Cardel, whose wards wound up in a triple tie for eighth with Alaska and NLEX with 4-7 win-loss record in 2019 but missed the playoff for No. 8 due to inferior quotient.

“But this time, siguro baka ito na ang hinihintay naming makapasok,” he added. (OL)

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