MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas guard Juan Gomez de Liaño is back home to play for the PBA D-League’s Marinerong Pilipino, and he surely did not disappoint in his first game back in a Skippers uniform.
In a 33-minute run, the former UP star dropped 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists on 7-of-14 shooting as Marinero sank San Sebastian in a second-half breakaway, 86-74, last Saturday, July 9.
Alongside fellow former B. League imports Kemark Cariño and ex-La Salle stalwart Jollo Go, Gomez de Liaño expectedly took the leadership role of a Skippers side laden with the Mapua Cardinals core, and he’s intent on making the most out of every minute of it.
“That’s my role, just becoming more of a leader, helping the young ones in their upcoming tournaments,” said an upbeat Gomez de Liaño after the game at Araneta Coliseum.
“I think that’s really my role, just to help them out in everything. That’s a great young core, and it’s an honor for me to go out there helping and practicing.”
Even at just 22 years old, the 6-foot guard is one of the most well-traveled and experienced prospects the Philippines has to offer today.
After the pandemic cut his UAAP career short, Gomez de Liaño polished his craft with his B. League stint with the Earthfriends Tokyo Z, where he averaged 5.4 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.3 rebounds in 17.4 minutes across 18 games.
He has also had multiple appearances in the 3×3 circuit with teams like Chooks-to-Go, Zamboanga Valientes, Platinum Karaoke, and the ASEAN Basketball League’s Surabaya Vikings Warriors.
Now honing his craft even more back home, Gomez de Liaño is hoping to stick to his mentorship role with Marinero as interest for his services ramps up anew.
“I think all of those tournaments really helped me a lot in terms of my overall game. [I’m] really just becoming more mature and [I’m] understanding the game even more,” he said. “I learned how to just slow down, and go my own pace.”
As they are off to a winning start, the Skippers are hoping for more of the same from their de facto leader as they next face the mighty Mike Phillips and EcoOil-La Salle at 11 am on Tuesday, July 12. – Rappler.com