MANILA, Philippines –Just in case there are still people who haven’t noticed, Juan Gomez de Liaño’s production has fallen off a cliff.
Just a season removed from clinching a spot in the UAAP Season 81 Mythical Five, the 19-year-old star’s averages have plummeted to just 5.2 points on a horrid 23% shooting clip, 5 rebounds and 2.8 assists with 2.6 turnovers
That’s a far cry from the 11.6 markers on a 40% shooting clip on top of 6.2 boards and 2.5 dimes he normed last year with the UP Fighting Maroons.
Which is why when he sank the go-ahead triple that ultimately sealed the 72-71 win against the La Salle Green Archers, Gomez de Liaño tried his hardest not to erupt in celebration.
“I mean, it was really nice because we had the lead but then I told my teammates, ‘You guys… there’s still time,’” he said after the game. “What happened to NU (buzzer-beater loss) might happen to us. I just told them to relax, you know, there’s still time, they might beat us. Good thing we stayed composed all throughout the game.”
But given what Gomez de Liaño had gone through in the preseason, it would have been hard to blame him had he celebrated that cold-blooded shot.
Simply put, there are a number of concrete reasons his production has dipped significantly and why such a shot meant more than meets the eye.
“It started after Holy Week so since April until now I was never a hundred percent and I had back spasms,” he recounted.
“Took me a long while to recover from that. When we were in Japan, we had a game, I hyper-extended my left knee. So back spasms, back to zero. I was really okay in Vegas, I was good. We went to Japan… hyper-extended my knee. Back to zero again.”
“It took me a while to just recover, but you know, people don’t know I’ve been really working hard to get back in shape, just to get my rhythm back,” he continued.
And as the new season started with the reloaded Maroons, Juan GDL not only faced physical hurdles, but emotional ones too as UP won multiple games consecutively just by the skin of their teeth.
If only he had been a little bit healthier, the storyline might have played out differently, but what’s done is done and Juan GDL just has to find a way to stay productive as the season rolls along.
“It was really tough for me. I was already like at my lowest point during the summer,” he said. “I lost everything, that’s what I felt, but I took it, you know, somehow positively.”
“I’ve been really focusing on my rehab, therapy,” he continued. “Especially now I sprained my ankle. My other knee has, jumper’s knee now. So tomorrow, [I need to work hard] just to get back in shape.”
Right now, Juan GDL might be down, but he’s by no means out.
“I know in God’s time I’ll be alright,” he concluded. – Rappler.com