Silver lining for State U? Juan GDL just had his breakout game

Silver lining for State U? Juan GDL had his breakout game
STEP UP. Juan Gomez de Liano just turned in his best game thus far in the Srs. division.

Back when things were still looking up for the University of the Philippines, head coach Bo Perasol was well-aware that they cannot keep relying on just Paul Desiderio and Jun Manzo.

And so, even before the Fighting Maroons went on the downward spiral they are currently in, Perasol was already urging his other guys to step up.

That is even truer for Juan Gomez de Liano who, though he was only a rookie, was tasked to take care of the attack when either Desiderio or Manzo was getting a breather. “Noon pa lang, lagi kong sinasabi sa kanya, ‘Juan, paglabas ni Paul and Jun, ikaw ang attacker.’ In fact, the reason I put him off the bench is because I challenged him to take care of the scoring cudgels after Paul and Jun go out.,” the mentor said.

Without a doubt, taking care of a team that’s still growing is a tall task even for a tantalizing talent like Gomez de Liano. “Sinasabi ko lagi sa kanya, ‘Alam kong bata ka pa, pero wala tayong panahon para maghintay. Hindi ito yung klase ng team na maghihintay ka ng dalawang taon,’” Perasol shared.

He then continued, “Ito yung team na kailangan ka na ngayon.”

At the start of the season, the 17-year-old showed flashes that he was up to the task.

Still, those were far from enough to prove that he was State U’s biggest recruit in recent memory. Through nine games, he had per game counts of 8.8 points in 32.5 percent shooting, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.

Then Sunday at the Filoil Flying V Centre rolled along and with both Desiderio and Manzo having off-games, Gomez de Liano was the shining star for UP. “I saw that Jun and Paul were having bad games so I felt that my brother (Javi Gomez de Liano) and I had to step up big time,” he told reporters then.

In the end, the Season 79 Jrs. MVP did his all for his team with a career-high 22 points on top of eight rebounds, three assists, and three steals – clearly, his best numbers in the season. “Individually, I did pretty well, but we still lost so it means nothing,” he said.

Indeed, that breakout game came in a 64-73 loss – the Fighting Maroons’ fifth in the last six games.

Still, they can take solace that their biggest recruit in recent memory is finally rounding into form.

And that breakout game of his is only the start. “We just have to focus on the next games and bounce back lang. That’s it,” he said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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