Even in defeat, U.P.’s Juan Gomez de Liano’s career-high performance torched the UAAP defending champions Ateneo during their recent Battle of Katipunan. De Liano, who is coming from last year’s Rookie of the Year season, has led his team in scoring during the opening games of the year.
De Liano scored 29 huge points against one of the most intimidating defenses in the tournament, keeping the boys in blue on their toes whenever he’d move without the ball and look for his shots.
He’s more patient now, and fans are starting to see less of his carelessness on the court. U.P.’s outing with Ateneo showcased De Liano’s attention to detail, calculating every move and making every possession count for as long he was on the floor. In fact, it would almost seem like he’s been in the league for years with the way he’s been playing.
In an interview after the game, de Liano told reporters, “I’m just being more of a leader to the team. Just being a point guard, to create for my teammates. Not just for myself, but for the team as well.” Clearly, the sophomore has embraced his new role on an uprising U.P. squad and it will be exciting to see how it pans out with him on the aggressive.
With their strongest lineup in recent history yet, U.P. is blessed to house de Liano’s talent in their roster. When was the last time college ball fans saw the Fighting Maroons enter the final four stages of the tournament? But with players like Juan Gomez around, and the confirmed additions of Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero – U.P. has more reason to make it big in the following years.
It’s an exciting time for a team that’s seen struggle for the longest time, a breath of fresh basketball air coming in the way for the school’s die-hard fans. As for de Liano, he’s bound to grow more as an athlete, student, and more importantly, a leader. Because if there’s one thing fans can take away from last night’s duel with Thirdy Ravena and the rest of the Blue Eagles – it’s that this kid doesn’t back down.
The U.P. Fighting Maroons will play against the University of Sto. Tomas next on Sunday, September 16.
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