IT took 12 years of waiting, but Juan Gomez de Liaño couldn't be any prouder that the latest triple-double feat in the UAAP is still from Diliman.
More than a decade after former Maroon Marvin Cruz's historic 22-point, 11-rebound, and 10-assist performance in a losing effort against Ateneo, it was Juan GDL's turn to record a triple-double with a 15-12-12 statline in UP's win over 94-81 in over University of the East.
"It’s really overwhelming for me na galing UP ulit yung nag-triple-double," the last season's Rookie of the Year said.
Gomez de Liaño shares a special bond with Cruz, who currently serves as an assistant coach to Paolo Mendoza in UPIS in the juniors division where Juan's younger brother Jordi plays.
"I talk to him. Sometimes sa offseason, I would go to UPIS practices. Minsan, I go with sina Jordi and I know for a fact na super galing ni coach Marv," he said.
The difference, however, is that Juan's performance netted a win, which put a bigger smile on Gomez de Liano's face.
"It feels great, not because I got a triple-double, but because we got the W," he said as UP rose to 4-5, good for joint fifth place.
Coming off a bout with fever, Gomez de Liano showed no signs of rust as he heeded coach Bo Perasol's call and embraced the role of a do-it-all playmaker-slash-leader for the Fighting Maroons.
"Coach Bo really wants me to become a complete player. He really wants me to become a leader for the team even before the season started," he said. "My job is to be more vocal, create for my teammates, need to be a playmaker so I just had to do my job – go 100 percent."
The triple-double feat is memorable, but what matters more for Gomez de Liaño is leading UP to the Final Four for the first time since 1997.
"That’s my main goal, make it to the Final Four first. Mythical Five, I just really set that aside because that’ll be so sad for us. It sucks na parang talks would be, 'Si Juan, puro talo yan sa career niya.' So I'm just really motivated," he said.
"I was eager to bounce back in this game, and I’m glad we did. Onto the next one."