EVER since their days in the high school circuit, L-Jay Gonzales knows how lethal of a scorer John Lloyd Clemente is.
"Kahit nung juniors, ganoon na talaga ang laro niya, di mo na mababago yun," the Far Eastern University rookie said.
That idea further got bolstered on Sunday when Clemente torched the Tamaraws for 38 points to lead the fight for NU.
"Sabi ko sa sarili ko, di namin ma-stop. Parang Steph Curry," Gonzales sighed. "Pero sinabi nga ni coach Olsen (Racela), kung kailangan nating tulungan yung dumedepensa sa kanya, tulungan natin."
The 19-year-old heeded the call and did an admirable job of slowing down his fellow neophyte while scoring five of his nine points in the fourth quarter to help the Tamaraws down the Bulldogs, 79-74.
"Ginanahan talaga lahat sa bench na sumunod kay coach Olsen at depensahan si Clemente. Alam rin kasi namin na pag tinalo namin (ang NU), maganda ang mangyayari sa amin," said Gonzales.
The victory allowed FEU to remain in the hunt for a UAAP Season 81 Final Four spot with its 7-6 card heading to its final game against Adamson on Sunday.
Despite coming out on top, Gonzales tipped his cap off to Clemente, who fell just six points short of the most points scored by an NU player in a single UAAP game.
"Mahirap talaga. Di siya basta-bastang kalaban. Mapapa-wow ka na lang sa laro niya," he said of Clemente.
But the young guard has also turned heads with his stellar play late in the eliminations, earning comparisons with former FEU greats in Denok Miranda, Mark Barroca, RR Garcia, Terrence Romeo, and Mike Tolomia, and maybe to an extent, Johnny Abarrientos.
But 5-foot-10 guard isn't looking that far, saying all he wants is to seize every opportunity Racela gives him in his first season with the Tamaraws.
"Ako naman, kung anong ibigay ni coach Olsen na playing time, ready ako. Magsa-sakripisyo ako kahit di na ako maka-shoot, basta makatulong lang ako," said Gonzales.
"Parang pressure sa sarili ko kung iisipin ko ang sinasabi ng iba, pero di ko na iniisip yun. Gusto ko lang maglaro ng maglaro at susuklian ko lang yung ibibigay sa akin ni coach Olsen."