JAVI Gomez de Liaño may have struggled in his first few games for Marinerong Pilipino-TIP in the 2018 PBA D-League Foundation Cup, but everything is slowly coming together for the 19-year-old cager.
Compared to his usual forward position for University of the Philippines, Gomez de Liaño has been challenged to play more as a guard in the developmental ranks.
Though the role swap did bring in some confusion at the start, he has learned to embrace this new task wholeheartedly.
“Naguguluhan ako sa position dito, kasi sa UP power forward ako. Medyo naguguluhan lang ako with my game,” he said. “I’ve been on a struggle buong summer trying to get my game, pero I keep telling myself na don't stop and keep going because better days will come.”
Engineers coach Koy Banal has also bore witness on how hard Gomez de Liaño has been working, relentless on his approach on trying to bring out the best version of the 6-foot-5 Swiss army knife.
"I'm telling him to embrace all the learnings he can get out of these games and practices. And I am thankful that he is responding," he said.
It didn’t take long before the fruits of his labor soon spruced up.
Gomez de Liaño had his finest performance for Marinerong Pilipino-TIP, posting 27 points on a 78-percent shooting from the field, as well as grabbing five rebounds in the team’s 105-80 blowout of AMA Online Education last Tuesday.
But rather than be satisfied, he believes that this is just the beginning.
“Finally nagstart na yung good game for me. Now, I hope to continue to working harder, keep it going, and be more consistent,” he said.
“I joined the D-League so I can develop as a player and get my confidence going through the years. Going to the big leagues, you have to adjust talaga kasi nung high school, I was one of the biggest. Going through college, average lang ako. Then looking forward to the future pa, I can't just be an inside player. I have to adjust.”
All of those sacrifices bodes well for Gomez de Liaño as he aims to be a better player for the Fighting Maroons, especially as they enter UAAP Season 81 with high hopes in mind.
“The D-League has helped me a lot going into the UAAP season. Twice a day ako nagte-training so wala ding rest. Ball is life,” he said. “It has also helped me not just be a one-dimensional player. Dito, I learned how to be with the ball more so I can attack one-on-one and create for my teammates more. I hope to just help the team win in the best possible way.”
With reports from Kate Reyes