COACH Bo Perasol is looking to further boost the University of the Philippines player pool even as high school star Juan Gomez de Liaño committed to play for the Maroons.
UP earlier acquired Nigerian former NCAA star Bright Akhuetie and improved the squad with the addition of Liano, this season’s UAAP juniors MVP.
But Perasol noted there is a lot of work to do to find players and build a championship contender in the UAAP.
Akhuetie will still serve a one-year residency, while UP hopes the 17-year-old De Liano can make an immediate impact.
“Juan is projected to be a major part of our program in the foreseeable future. Our pipeline is actually not yet complete but I’m glad that he is already part of it. His growth is naturally a process and will entail time, lots of patience, and enormous effort,” said Perasol.
Perasol is confident the 6-foot-1 De Liano has what it takes to play college ball.
“He had proven that he could compete among his peers as evidenced by his MVP numbers. Given the time, he can potentially do that on a higher level,” said Perasol.
Gomez de Liaño won the MVP award in the UAAP Juniors after averaging 19.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals for UP Integrated School in Season 79. He is the first UPIS players since Sam Marata in 2007 to win the title.
The juniors star said he is excited to be part of building a winning culture at UP, which fell just short of the semifinals in Season 79.
“I’m very excited to get to work and begin playing with the team, including my brother Javi, so that we can continue the winning culture started by the team last year and make the UP community proud,” said Gomez de Liaño in a statement.
“There’s nowhere to go but UP!,” he added.