Juan Gomez de Liano lifted the University of the Philippines to a come-from-behind win against De La Salle University, Wednesday at MOA Arena.
Only, it wasn't even certain that he even had enough lift on his body to have even been playing.
"Dapat 'di ko na nga pinilit yun because I really couldn't," he told reporters after his game-winning triple raised their record to a 5-1. "Our therapist had my ankle taped and I was really in pain, but I really wanted to go back to help my teammates in whatever way I can and just not let the UP community down."
Aside from his hurting left ankle, Juan GDL was also nursing a bum right knee as well as an ailing back - and he's been battling through those injuries for quite some time now.
Apparently, the third-year guard hasn't been at full strength since April. "(The back spasms) started after Holy Week and until now, I was never a hundred percent. It's been taking me a long while to recover from that," he shared.
Not long after, he then incurred the knee injury in a pocket tourney in Japan - and, of course, that didn't help his back at all. "Back to zero again," he said.
Through those, the 6-foot-2 playmaker also sustained an ankle sprain or two which are pretty par for the course for players.
Nonetheless, those still didn't let him get back at full strength and get into any sort of rhythm.
And for Juan GDL, somebody made special by just how silky smooth he is, that was the biggest frustration of all - to not be able to play your game. "It was really tough for me. I was already at my lowest point during the summer," he shared.
He then continued, "I lost everything, that's what I felt, but I took it, you know, somehow still positively."
Indeed, the 19-year-old kept the faith and just kept working. "I've been working really, really hard to get back in shape and get my rhythm back, that's what people don't know," he said.
Despite all that, when it mattered most for UP in a game that may very well have implications on their confidence heading into a Finals rematch with Ateneo de Manila University, Juan GDL took matters into his own hands.
And he did not let Diliman down. "I'm glad I really had the guts to go back out there because I was really scared na baka nga maging mas malala pa. The whole summer, I was really injured so I'm glad I took the chance to go back to help my teammates," he said.
In the end, the Fighting Maroons' homegrown star won the game with a bad back as well as a hurting knee and ankle.
Just imagine what he'll do when he finally returns to form - the form that was a member of the Mythical Team as well as a key cog of State U's Cinderella run to the Finals.
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