FOR Juan Gomez de Liaño, it's time for him to go back to his roots.
Suiting up for Nueva Ecija in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup presented by TM, the 6-foot-1 guard is marking his return to 3x3 basketball where his star first shone bright.
"We’re playing 3x3 and that’s the OG," he said. "I was introduced to 3x3 basketball when I was eight or nine years old. I would play 3x3 with grownups, I grew up playing in the streets."
Gomez de Liaño was a key cog in the Philippine team which saw action in the 2017 Fiba 3x3 Under-18 World Cup in Chengdu.
Teaming up with fellow youth stars AJ Edu, Rhayyan Amsali, and Encho Serrano, the Filipinos made waves in the tourney and made it to the quarterfinals before settling for the seventh-place finish.
It was a memorable experience for the University of the Philippines stalwart and still relishes memories of that campaign even until now.
"It was very positive. Coming into that tournament, I remember there weren’t high expectations for us. We finished seventh but that I was a great experience being able to compete at a high level," he said.
Three years after, the fire still burns for Gomez de Liaño as he seeks to lead the Rice Vanguards to great heights inside the Calambubble at Inspire Sports Academy.
"We joined this tournament with one mindset -- to win," said the 20-year-old, who holds a special guest player license from the Games and Amusements Board.
Gomez de Liaño will be linking up with veteran Gab Banal to carry the torch for Nueva Ecija.
Completing the squad are Jai Reyes and Tonino Gonzaga as they make up for the late pullouts of Juan's brothers Javi and Joe.