Juan Gomez de Liaño may have played his final game for University of the Philippines last November 13.
With the 6-foot-1 guard playing his first game with Nueva Ecija in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM, his eligibility in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines is now under question.
During the press conference that promoted Chooks 3×3 as a professional league last July, Games and Amusements Board Chairman Baham Mitra shared that the agency is allowing non-pro players to join pay-for-play leagues through a special guest player license.
“Siguro iba ang pagkakilala niyo sa GAB noon, iba sa ngayon. Ngayon kasi flexible kami,” Mitra said.
“If you remember noon, in the professional leagues, amateur and guest players were allowed to play, including guest teams,” he continued, as UP was once a guest team in the PBA during the late 80s.
This is the exemption given to the Azkals Development Team in the Philippines Football League.
Guest players are not allowed to receive salaries, just allowances. Moreover, the pot money can’t be shared with the “guest player.”
However, the UAAP’s by-laws state that its student-athletes cannot compete in any competition sanctioned by GAB. The UAAP and other collegiate leagues do not report to GAB.
Moreover, the 83-year-old league does not recognize GAB’s guest player exemptions since the tournament the student-athlete will play in is still overseen by an official from the agency.
“Kahit nga makita ang isang UAAP player sa sabong na under GAB makes him ineligible,” said a league insider, who requested anonymity.
“And difference nung ADT sa case ni Juan is national team ‘yung Azkals na maglalaro sa PFL.”
Knowing this, Juan’s brothers Joe and Javi decided not to play for Nueva Ecija in Chooks 3×3. Justine Baltazar and Encho Serrano of La Salle, Bryan Santos of UST, John Lloyd Clemente of NU, and Neil Tolentino of UE also decided not to suit up for Pampanga in the NBL.
On the other hand, Juan played his first game in the pro league on Wednesday vs Roxas City.
Unless he is given a special exemption, Juan will end his three-year stint in UP with averages of 12.43 points, 6.06 rebounds, and 3.28 assists in 46 games played. He was the UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year; a silver medalist and Mythical Team member during Season 81; and a bronze medalist in Season 82.
During his junior year in UP, the Gilas cadet turned down several offers from overseas to stay in UP.