By Rusty Magsakay
IF there's something that's already treated as a matter of fact at Far Eastern University, it's that big things are in store ahead for L-Jay Gonzales.
Olsen Racela took it one step further with a bold declaration.
"Si L-Jay naman, he's the future of FEU," the FEU head coach said after a 106-81 victory over The Masterpiece-Trinity University of Asia in the 2019 PBA D-League.
Those words only boosts the confidence of the 20-year-old guard who has been having a tear in the developmental ranks.
"Parang lumalaki na rin yung responsibility ko sa team kasi iniisip ko last year na parang di ako gamit, then sinabi ko sa sarili ko na wala na yung graduating players kaya kailangan ko mag-step up. Nagtrabaho lang ako ng nagtrabaho," he said.
Gonzales has been one of the consistent performers for Chadao-FEU in the PBA D-League, averaging 11.0 points, 3.25 assists and 1.5 steals - all team-highs - to go with his 5.75 rebounds.
Those performances shouldn't come as a surprise since the Tamaraws are already grooming him to be the point guard of the future following the graduation of Jasper Parker and Axel Inigo, who both took the young Gonzales under their wings.
"Rookie pa lang ako, gina-guide na nila ako at sinasabi na nila sa akin yung mga dapat kong gawin sa court. Marami akong na-pick up sa mga kuya ko last year," the 5-foot-10 court general said.
Gonzales is also expected to benefit the most with the arrival of former FEU star guard Denok Miranda in Racela's staff.
"Sobrang swerte po namin kasi PBA legends na po yung nagtuturo sa amin. Ang sarap ng feeling na sila yung nagtuturo sa amin," he said.
Racela, though, is preaching patience as he grooms Gonzales to become the latest addition to a long line of great point guards from FEU.
"We want to bring him in slowly. Last year, he played behind two guards pero ngayon he shares the backcourt with Hubert (Cani). Hindi naman namin siya minamadali. We just need cosnistency from him," he said.
"Ang effort, nandoon naman lagi kay L-Jay. Yung maturity na lang ang hinahanap namin."