UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Jinino Manansala couldn't be any happier to bring Jordi Gomez de Liano onboard at Espana.
For the incoming coach, the arrival of the former University of the Philippines Integrated School scorer is exactly what the Tigers need to get back on their feet after the Bicol bubble scandal led to a mass exodus of stars.
"We are grateful that Jordi chose UST and will be part of the Growling Tigers team. He is a big boost to our depleted team and we hope our basketball system will greatly enhance his development as a student-athlete," he told Spin.ph.
The younger brother of UP standouts and Gilas Pilipinas pool members Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano chose to make his own path at UST, where he can enjoy extended minutes once the UAAP Season 84 resumes.
Jordi was part of the Gilas Pilipinas Youth pool for the 2019 Fiba Under-16 Asian Championship in Beirut. The lanky 6-foot-5 winger had his breakout year in UAAP Season 82, posting 13.0 points on a 30-percent clip from deep to go with 4.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists for the Junior Maroons.
Gomez de Liano will undoubtedly be front-and-center for the Growling Tigers in their first season since the firing of coach Aldin Ayo and the departure of stars CJ Cansino, Rhenz Abando, Mark Nonoy, and Bismarck Luna.
He will be teaming up with fellow rookies Rom Junsay from Arellano, Johnsherick Estrada from St. Clare College of Caloocan, and Nikko Panganiban from Our Lady of Fatima University.
Soulemane Chabi Yo, the UAAP Season 82 MVP, will still be around along with Sherwin Concepcion and Dave Ando, and transferees Joshua Fontanilla and Bryan Santos.
Manansala, though, knows that restoring order at UST will take more than just one key signing. But he vowed to keep working to make the Espana-based squad a legitimate title contender once again.
"We are going to work hard to help each other build the Growling Tigers team," he said.