As the league’s 93rd season nears conclusion, Lyceum of the Philippines University’s CJ Perez is likely to be the first local player to grab the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in three years.
Perez remained as the frontrunner for the top individual award after Lyceum’s historic 18-game sweep of the double-round eliminations, punctuated by a nail-biting 107-105 win over defending champion San Beda College two weeks ago.
The 23-year old forward posted a league-best average of 19.3 points and 1.9 steals to go with 6.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists during the Pirates’ unbeaten run, which catapulted them to their first Finals appearance.
Besides the statistical points, Perez had also bested other top performers in several occasions for the NCAA Press Corps Player of the Week citation.
Should Perez won the MVP trophy, he will be the first homegrown talent to cop the recognition since University of Perpetual Help System DALTA’s Earl Scottie Thompson in 2014.
But the talented cager is more focused on leading the Pirates to their first championship in the school’s six-year stint in the league.
“I’m thinking more of helping the team win a championship,” said Perez. “If I win the MVP, that would just be a bonus,” said Perez.
Trailing behind Perez in the MVP race are fellow Pirate Mike Nzeusseu and San Beda’s Javee Mocon.
Nzeusseu, who earned the Rookie of Year plum last season, averaged a double-double of 11.4 points and 11.8 rebounds on top of 1.2 blocks.
The Cameroonian big man also played a crucial role in Lyceum’s second round victory over San Beda as notched a game-high 27 points plus 21 boards.
Mocon, meanwhile, had been consistent for the Red Lions throughout the season as the forward averages 12.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
San Beda playmaker Robert Bolick and San Sebastian College-Recoletos forward Michael Calisaan could have been candidates for the MVP plum if not for their disqualifying fouls, which automatically barred them from receiving any individual award as per league rules.