LAST cut no more, Javi Gomez de Liano is thankful to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) program director Tab Baldwin for the opportunity he got in the 2021 Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers in Manama.
"I was telling him, 'It's all you, coach!' I've never got this opportunity in my life," the University of the Philippines forward said.
Falling short of the final squad several times dating back to youth team days, Gomez de Liano made sure to capitalize on the opportunity.
"Before the bubble, I was on call with coach Tab and asking what can I do to help the team. He said shooting and defense, so I took that to heart and worked on it. I guess if he expects you to do those, then you have to deliver," he said.
Gomez de Liano, 22, worked for every minute he got for Gilas Pilipinas in Bahrain and did not disappoint, delivering the goods for the Philippines in its two-game series against Thailand.
He was solid in the first game on Friday, scoring nine points in his debut while also showing his accurate shooting and relentless defense.
But the 6-foot-4 sniper further shone on Monday in Gilas' 93-69 win over the Thais, waxing hot for a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from deep to pace Gilas with 19 points.
Still, Gomez de Liano charged it to the cadets buying into the system Baldwin has put in place.
"It's part of coach Tab's system to always look for that extra pass and we all played selfless basketball last night," he said, with the Philippines shooting 16-of-33 from rainbow country.
"Everyone was looking for the extra pass to give and we did, so we shot better this game. We all gave up the good shots for better and open shots and It was really a team effort."
It's certainly a trip to remember for Gomez de Liano and he is eager to improve on his game and earn another Gilas callup in the future.
"I'm happy with my performance, but I have a lot more to work on with my game," he said. "I feel accomplished making it to the team, but this is only the beginning. Everyday you have to set new goals and try to achieve them each day."