UAAP Basketball

Why Jordi Gomez de Liaño chose the UST Tigers

Naveen Ganglani
Why Jordi Gomez de Liaño chose the UST Tigers

NEW DIRECTION. Jordi Gomez de Liaño says UST is the 'best fit' for him.

UAAP

One of the talented Gomez de Liaño brothers carves his own path as Jordi takes his talents from UP to UST

Local high school hoops standout Jordi Gomez de Liaño has taken the next step in his budding basketball career by committing to the UST Growling Tigers, both he and his father Bert Gomez de Liaño confirmed to Rappler on Thursday, June 10.

The formal announcement of Jordi’s commitment, which comes after months of speculation, is expected to take place early next week, when the fourth of the talented “GDL Bros” will take the customary photo wearing the varsity jacket of his new home.

Jordi’s decision is unique given that his older brothers Juan and Javi, both of whom are also national team standouts, are with the UP Fighting Maroons. 

Carving his own path, Jordi, after playing his high school career with the UPIS Junior Maroons, will now make the shift to España, Manila.

His eldest brother, Joe, is a figure in the UST basketball community, too.

“I feel like I can grow more in UST,” Jordi told Rappler in an exclusive interview, shortly after UST’s official publication, The Varsitarian, reported the news.

“I think UST is the best fit for me,” he shared.

Jordi was one of this year’s most sought-after recruits coming out of high school. The 6-foot-5, 18-year-old shooter also received interest from University of the Philippines, the College of St. Benilde, De La Salle University, and other NCAA schools. Taking a gap year to train abroad was also an option for the FIBA Under-17 roster pool selectee.

“I think the coaching staff will help me,” he said of the Growling Tigers, who are now led by new head coach Jinino Manansala.

Although he resigned following the “Sorsogon bubble” fiasco, the winning philosophies instilled by former coach Aldin Ayo remains in UST’s hoops program, currently spearheaded by his former assistant.

“My brothers told me coach Aldin’s a one-of-a-kind coach. They know they (the coaching staff) can help me become a way better player,” Gomez de Liaño said over the phone.

For Bert, the decision-making came down to “which university can offer the best player development, and that’s it.

“As a father,” he added, “it’s a tough decision because the GDLs have always been associated with UP and Ateneo – because all of them went to Ateneo – then now someone will go beyond that normal [route].

“It’s really for player development. Jordi’s in the right direction.”

According to sources who monitored the situation, part of the young GDL’s reasons for selecting UST was the exposure and playing time he’d get as a Growling Tiger. A number of the team’s athletic standouts transferred to other schools as part of the “Sorsogon bubble” fallout, leaving plenty of opportunity for other hopefuls to earn Team A roster spots.

UP and DLSU, in contrast, have loaded rosters given their successful recruitment during this prolonged UAAP offseason because of COVID-19.

The Maroons had a final meeting with the Gomez de Liaño family early this week, according to sources. But afterwards, UST was selected as his collegiate destination.

Jordi, who chuckled when realizing he is about to wear yellow instead of maroon for the first time, said his job is simple: “to get the job done with the coaches and teammates.”

He also noted UST’s rich history of winning in the UAAP. The Growling Tigers have 18 men’s basketball titles, which is tied with University of the East for second most all time and close behind Far Eastern University’s 20 trophies.

The Tigers, under Ayo’s guidance, made the last UAAP men’s basketball finals in Season 82 against three-time defending champion Ateneo.

“I want to be remembered as a champion, at least,” Jordi said about the UST legacy he wants to have. He also didn’t shy away from acknowledging the expectations set by the performance of his talented older brothers, who helped lead UP to the Season 81 finals.

“My brothers set the standard so I have to live up to the names, to do better, and to play better in order to play college ball,” Jordi said.

His message for the UST community?

“Let’s have fun. Let’s get it done.” – Rappler.com