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    Juan Gomez de Liaño guarantees Final Four spot for UP Maroons

    Sep 4, 2018
    Juan Gomez de Liaño says he hasn't had a dayoff since the end of the last UAAP season to work on his craft.
    PHOTO: marlo cueto

    JUAN Gomez de Liaño wasn't even born the last time University of the Philippines got to the Final Four.

    The year was 1997 and the Fighting Maroons depended on stalwarts like Bryan Gahol and Paolo Mendoza to notch a fourth-place finish before being booted out by eventual champion FEU.

    Twenty-one years after and UP is still here, longing for a chance to once again compete for the title it last hoisted back in 1986.

    Though he wasn't even born in this world then, Gomez de Liaño shares the same desire of the Fighting Maroons to make it to the playoffs. After all, he hasn't reached that level, too, no matter how decorated he was in the juniors' division.

    For the UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year, that drought ends this year.

    "I could say the Final Four is a sure spot for us. Once we get there, we’ll just take it one game at a time," he testified.

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      Don't mistake his confidence for cockiness, though. UP is just that good.

      Trotting their best lineup in decades, the Fighting Maroons are coming into UAAP Season 81 with grand expectations and the players know how big the pressure there is for them.
      "They just expect us to win games," the 18-year-old playmaker said.

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      But for Gomez de Liano, he knows that their heightened goals should also come with improved play, something which he took it upon himself in the offseason as he made the most of his stint in the Gilas cadets squad.

      "Ever since Season 80 ended, no days off. I’ve been working every day on my craft," he said.

      "I feel like I’m different now in a lot of ways. Playing for Gilas was really a great experience for me just to get a chance to gain experience with older players. So in Season 81, I’ll be much more aggressive, I’ll be more consistent with my shot. Right now, I’ll be more of point guard so I’ll continue to create for my teammates."

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      That's why don't be surprised if UP finally lives up to Bo Perasol's blueprint of turning it from Fighting Maroons to Winning Maroons. Gomez de Liano wants you to bet on it.

      "We just want to prove na we’ve been preparing for the season and we just really have to win games," he said.

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      Juan Gomez de Liaño says he hasn't had a dayoff since the end of the last UAAP season to work on his craft.
      PHOTO: marlo cueto
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