From UPIS to Mapua, Gozum’s learning: ‘Wag magpetiks-petiks’

From UP to Mapua, Gozum’s learning: ‘Wag magpetiks-petiks'
WORK HARD, PLAY HARD. Will Gozum has learned at a young age that nothing comes easy.

With Mapua University in need of a bounce back win, Will Gozum stepped up to the plate.

Pounding in a career-high 31 points on top of 14 rebounds and two blocks, he lifted the Red Robins back onto the win column.

And he did all of it not even a week after sustaining a right knee sprain during practice. “80 percent pa lang po ako, pero nakatsamba lang,” he said post-game.

As it turns out, the 18-year old was just putting into practice the biggest lesson in his life thus far making the most out of each and every opportunity.

Gozum was once a promising core for the University of the Philippines Integrated School with Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Even more, he wore the flag as a member of Batang Gilas.

But then, the six-foot-six center was cut from the Junior Maroons for reasons he opted not to disclose. “Pagkagaling ko pong Batang Gilas, pagbalik ko ng UPIS, naalis ako. Sayang po yung team namin na yun, solid din e,” he shared.

Fortunately, he landed on his feet with a program that is getting known for polishing unfinished products. “Buti na lang po, kinupkop naman ako ng Mapua,” he said.

Not only did Mapua take him in, it also entrusted him to hold down the fort as its starting center – bolstering a rotation that already had Warren Bonifacio and Sherwin Concepcion.

From then on, Gozum vowed not to waste any more opportunities. “Natutunan ko po nun na wag basta-basta magpetiks-petiks. Dapat, laging mag-focus sa lahat – mapalaro o mapaaral,” he said.

With a renewed focus, the versatile big man became a key cog in the Red Robins’ championship a season ago.

And only continuing that renewed focus, he had no problems staying with the program for what is now his final year – even as head coach Randy Alcantara is strict when it comes to studies.

For that learning at such a young age, Gozum is nothing but grateful. “Sobrang laki ng utang na loob ko kay coach Randy. Dahil sa kanya kaya ako mas nag-improve sa lahat ng bagay,” he said.

He then continued, “Sobrang thankful din ako sa Mapua kasi ito yung kumupkop sa akin. Nung walang-wala ako, sila yung tumanggap sa akin.”

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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