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MANILA, Philippines – L-Jay Gonzales did not have the UAAP sendoff he desired as his FEU Tamaraws not only missed the men’s basketball Final Four for the second year in a row, but also ended Season 86 with their second loss to the cellar-dwelling UST Growling Tigers on Saturday, November 18.
A former FEU high school champion and Mythical Five member, the do-it-all guard only had 4 points on a 2-of-8 clip from the field before fouling out late in the fourth quarter, but still scattered 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and a block in under 25 minutes.
The scenario that played out in the end of the close loss was merely a recurring theme for the once-formidable Tamaraws: Gonzales giving everything he’s got only for the team to fall short.
Nevertheless, the graduating guard has nothing but well wishes for the school he has called home for much of his young life as the next chapter of his career beckons.
“I’m really happy with a bit of sadness as well since I won’t be able to return to the UAAP, but I’m happy that I was able to end the season well,” Gonzales said in Filipino after the game.
“Even though I had injuries, I still played through because I wanted to share what I have for the UAAP. I’m thankful for all the advice my coaches had and the FEU community who was always there for me.”
While big opportunities outside the UAAP certainly awaits a talent of his caliber, Gonzales is taking it slow with his next step after playing three seasons in two years riddled with an assortment of minor injuries.
“For now, there’s nothing next. I’ll have my bone spurs removed first,” he continued. “Then I’ll rehab and let’s see [what’s next].”
Rookie head coach Denok Miranda rued the fact that he was only able to coach Gonzales for one season, but he likewise believes that the sky is the limit for his star ward.
“I wish we had more time together so I could have still taught what I’ve experienced,” the former FEU star and PBA player said in Filipino.
“But I saw how big his contributions were as a veteran. He was the one talking to the younger guys, so I had an easier time talking to them. He was taking charge.”
Wherever his journey takes him next, Gonzales will certainly immediately help any team fortunate enough to take in his services. He may get hurt, he may have off games, but as he has proven throughout the years, he will never quit. – Rappler.com