NCAA Jrs. MVP Will Gozum says UP has always been where his heart is
Will Gozum, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, will be re-united in UP to continue what they had already started.
Will Gozum will be making a return to the stage where he first started opening eyes.
The NCAA Juniors MVP is set to play once more for the University of the Philippines, giving a long-suffering community even more reason to hope for the end of a two decade-long playoff drought.
Even with the sentimentality of staying in Mapua University or the lure of transferring to National University or University of Sto. Tomas, Gozum said coming home to Diliman was the best decision for him. “Home is where your heart is and sa UP ko feel na feel yun,” he shared.
The six-foot-six big man was once part of a promising core for UP Integrated School alongside Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan.
However, he was cut from the roster for reasons he opted not to disclose.
Fortunately, Gozum landed on his feet with the Red Robins and established himself as one of the blue-chip prospects in high school in his two years there.
Through it all, the 18-year-old said his love for UP and the UP community’s support for him never wavered. “Dati pa, kahit po nasa Mapua ako, sinu-support nila ako. Lalo na po yung Gregorios and GDLs, nakatututok sila lagi sa akin at gusto nila akong bumalik sa UP,” he said.
Allan Gregorio and son Jaggie were Gozum’s former head coach and teammate, respectively.
The GDLs, meanwhile, went on an all-out offensive to recruit their one-time running mate.
Now the reunion has come true, Gozum wants nothing more than to prove he is deserving of a spot in the Fighting Maroons’ surprisingly stacked lineup.
Able to play both center and power forward, he will bolster a frontline that already includes Bright Akhuetie, Paul Desiderio, Javi GDL, Jerson Prado, Gelo Vito, and Noah Webb. Then manning the backcourt are Diego Dario, Juan GDL, Jarrell Lim, Jun Manzo, and Jaydee Tungcab.
The UP commit promises to do whatever it takes to help his new team get back to the Final Four for the first time since 1997. “Ngayon po, back to zero kasi wala na naman dito yung high school career. Basta ako, trabaho lang lagi,” he said.
He then continued, “I’m not expecting playing time. Basta matawag ako rito, I will do my 101 percent sa loob ng court.”
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