STELLAR. Sophomore player Juan Gomez de Liaño averages a team-high 22.5 points for the UP Maroons. Photo by Mix Gatpandan/Rappler
MANILA, Philippines – The University of the Philippines' showdown against rival neighbor Ateneo didn't go as planned, but somehow, the Maroons found a lone bright spot.
The Diliman-based crew bowed to defending champion Ateneo and will likely have to do without Bo Perasol next game after the Maroons head coach got ejected midway through the 3rd period for lashing out and charging towards the referee on the court with play ongoing. (READ: UP coach Bo Perasol set to appeal likely suspension)
But UP standout Juan Gomez de Liaño gave the Maroons something to look forward to as he recorded a career-high 29 points on a stellar 12-of-19 (63%) clip with 6 rebounds and 2 assists.
The younger GDL brother was on fire most of the contest and already had 16 points by halftime. But due to the loss, the 6-foot-1 guard downplayed the achievement.
“I was just being aggressive, both ends of the court,” said Gomez de Liaño, last season's UAAP Rookie of the Year winner.
Asked about his second-straight efficient outing, Gomez de Liaño said that he was just leaning on a bigger role, especially with captain Paul Desiderio graduating after this season.
“I’m just being more of a leader to the team,” he said. “Just being a point guard, to create for my teammates. Not just for myself, but for the team as well.”
In two games so far with the Maroons, Gomez de Liaño has averaged a team-high 22.5 points with 6.5 rebounds and 4 assists.
And his leadership was indeed tested especially after Perasol’s ejection, leaving them without a leader for the final 6:56 minutes of a still winnable contest.
“We were just talking together, just being composed, even though they were up by like 10,” he said. “But we fell short.”
The Gilas cadet focused more on their loss against the Blue Eagles, who were clearly more aggressive as shown by the 31-7 free throw attempt disparity.
“I think it was our defense – we fell short during the end of the 4th quarter,” he said. “You guys saw we were down by 5 in the last five minutes. Coach Bo was out so we weren’t able to execute the plays and do the right game plan.”
“Actually, we could’ve done better, knowing that they lost their first game,” he continued. “Yeah, on to the next game.”
With UP left without Perasol, who will serve an automatic one-game suspension in their Sunday, September 16 match against UST, Juan GDL has all the more reason to prove he is indeed the leader he wants to be. – Rappler.com