Player of the Week Juan GDL makes good on his promise to UP
ABS-CBN Sports on Nov 19, 2018 12:59 PM
Juan GDL may very well end up being UP's homegrown star who shines the brightest
For UP to make its first trip to the Final Four since 1997, a special talent had to have his hands on the steering wheel.
With a 3-5 record at the midway mark of UAAP Season 81, the Fighting Maroons turned the reins of the offense over to their very own special talent in Juan Gomez de Liano and since then, they have gone 5-1.
Now, State U will be seeing action in the Final Four for the first time in 21 years – and it was all because their sophomore standout, who had just turned 19-years-old, made all the right plays.
Juan GDL’s most crucial plays came in UP’s most crucial game in recent history last Wednesday when they were matched up with La Salle with the third-seed up for grabs.
And all game long, the Season 80 Rookie of the Year did nothing but deliver and eventually ended with 27 points, four assists, and three rebounds.
More importantly, his performance eventually ended with a win that put a stop to the Fighting Maroons’ playoff drought that had lasted for more than two decades.
For that, Juan GDL was duly recognized as the Chooks-to-Go Collegiate Sports Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week.
All of this was a promise fulfilled for him. “I said offseason pa lang that we’re gonna make it to the Final Four. I promised coach Bo [Perasol], I promised everybody that we’ll be here, and now we’re here, we’re not taking it for granted,” he said.
Without a doubt, having their playmaker come off the bench and then controlling the offense once he’s on the floor was the key change that has fueled State U’s playoff push.
In the last six games, five of which they won, Juan GDL averaged 16.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.8 assists off the bench.
This, compared to the first eight games, five of which they lost, when he normed 19.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists as a starter.
While they have finally broken through, however, Diliman’s homegrown talent said they are far from finished. “On to the next one still. Now we’re in the Final Four, we’re still hungry for the Finals,” he said.
Juan GDL celebrates his birthday by edging out kuya Javi and another UP teammate in Bright Akhuetie, the Ateneo pair of Angelo Kouame and William Navarro, and NU’s one-and-done big man Troy Rike for the weekly plum handed out by print and online scribes covering the beat.