MANILA, Philippines – UP Fighting Maroons veteran Javi Gomez de Liaño has decided to sit out the men’s basketball tournament of UAAP Season 83 that will be held in September, he confirmed to Rappler on Tuesday, February 4.
Javi, the eldest of the Gomez de Liaño brothers from the University of the Philippines, explained the decision was impacted by the opportunity to train with the Gilas national team and play in the MPBL.
“I started thinking about myself this time and more on my personal growth,” Javi said in an exclusive phone conversation.
“[Another] big factor is that the Gilas opportunity happened. It was my first time being called up. Those are, I think, things [that] you shouldn’t take for granted.”
The development was also confirmed by Renan Dalisay, the chairman of the Nowhere To Go But UP Foundation, who spoke with Javi on Tuesday afternoon.
“We will give him our full support on his desire to focus on Gilas Pilipinas this year,” Dalisay said in a statement.
Javi, who’s coming off a championship stint with Mighty Sports in Dubai, clarified this decision doesn’t mean he is leaving UP for good. Gomez de Liaño has been with the institution since his high school playing days with UPIS.
“I’m still open for coming back after this year,” he confirmed.
Javi has one year of eligibility left in the UAAP.
In addition, Dalisay is eager to see Gomez de Liaño return in 2021.
“He promised me to be back for Season 84. He, of course, still wants to do his share in helping UP get that elusive championship,” Dalisay said.
UP is still seeking its first men’s basketball title since 1986.
Throughout his 4 years as a Fighting Maroon, Javi improved from making the last cut of Team A as a rookie to one of UP’s go-to guys as a senior. He averaged nearly 10 points a game in Season 81, shot 35% from downtown, and accounted for a handful of explosive scoring performances.
Gomez de Liaño will seek to improve even further this year.
“I’m grateful and blessed to have that opportunity,” he said about playing in the MPBL. “I’m really going to make the most of it, learn a lot, and be a better person and player.”
Questions on Javi and his brother Juan’s UP return first popped up after the duo didn’t commit to come back following the Maroons’ elimination at the hands of UST in the Final Four last year.
When asked whether or not Juan will also sit out, Javi replied, “I want him to say it.”
The older Gomez de Liaño, 21, will still go to UP often in the next year for his classes as an undergraduate. As far as life away from the Fighting Maroons, Javi admits there will be an adjustment period.
“It was the hardest decision because I had to let go of something I really love,” he said. “I love the UP community. I love everyone there. I love the management. I’m friends with everyone. It’s like leaving home for a while.”
In addition to Javi, UP is also going to lose Jun Manzo, Jaydee Tungcab, and Jerson Prado, who have all played out their eligibility.
Veterans like Kobe Paras, Bright Akhuetie, and Ricci Rivero have chosen to return, as the Fighting Maroons contend for a title in Season 83. – Rappler.com