Juan GDL raring to upset Ateneo: 'Why stop now?'
MANILA, Philippines – If there’s one thing fans have learned about UP super sophomore Juan Gomez de Liaño, it’s that when the lights shine the brightest, he plays at his best.
And no spotlight is bigger than the upcoming UAAP Season 81 Finals, where the UP Fighting Maroons are now hoping for a date with destiny in their bid to challenge the defending champion Ateneo Blue Eagles.
For Gomez de Liaño, Saturday's Game 1 could not come any sooner.
"We literally started from the bottom. It was all a dream," he said after their improbable series sweep of the No. 2 Adamson Soaring Falcons last Wednesday, November 28. "Why are we gonna stop now? Why are we gonna stop?"
"Final Four, Finals, we’re not gonna stop," the 19-year-old sensation boldly declared.
And it's not as if he hasn't proven to thrive in the biggest of situations.
With the Araneta Coliseum sold out and rocking with more than 20,000 emotionally-charged fans on Wednesday afternoon, last season's Rookie of the Year recorded a new career-high 30 points, including a clutch and-one layup in overtime to help close a daunting 78-84 gap in the final 3 minutes.
Three-pointers, acrobatic drives, you name it, he did it just to will UP's fighting spirit against all odds.
"We just never gave up, literally just never gave up," he said. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we’re never gonna give up."
After failing to lead the Junior Maroons in high school to a playoff berth even in his MVP season two years ago, the young GDL is just hungry to prove his worth even further, especially against a perennial Finals contender like the Blue Eagles.
"I can’t put it in words right now, I’m just really grateful for this opportunity that God gave us," he said. "This is in a great position, and yeah, this is it. We’re gonna make the most out of this opportunity."
At this point, with these stakes on the line, most players would have buckled under immense pressure. But then again, as he has proven time and again, Juan GDL is nothing like most players. – Rappler.com