When Gab Gomez played for Italy Europe Proudly Pinoy in the 2019 Chooks-to-Go NBTC National Finals, the 6-foot guard turned a lot of heads.
Averaging 19.0 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, the Fil-Italian received several offers to play here — including one from University of the East.
Though his mom came from La Salle, Gomez only had one dream: to play for Ateneo.
And it’s because the Nusugbu, Batangas native always looked up to his godfather LA Tenorio.
“Mama ko po graduate sa La Salle. Ninong ko po si LA Tenorio, played for Ateneo. Pinapanood ko po siya lagi,” said Gomez.
“Dream come true talaga sa akin na mapunta sa Ateneo.”
Gomez has only been able to watch Tenorio in the PBA, particularly during his time in Ginebra. But his father always told him stories about how the 5-foot-9 floor general wowed even in his days in Ateneo.
Though it would be tough to match what Tenorio accomplished in Katipunan, the 20-year-old soon-to-be Tourism graduate vows to quickly integrate his European game to the Pinoy style of play.
“Ta-try ko po na ibigay ‘yung experience ko sa Europe, then mag-learn ng Filipino style,” he said.
“Handa ako matuto every day.”
Gomez has also sought advice from fellow Fil-Italians Dalph Panopio and Cholo Anonuevo on what the play is like in the Philippines.
“Kumbaga, mas pisikal po ang laro, kaya kailangan po mag-practice po sa katawan. Then, mas mabilis po ang mga tao, mas mabilis ang mga player na naglalaro sa Philippines.”
Ateneo head coach Tab Baldwin, on the other hand, has high hopes for Gomez. And once Gomez arrives this coming June, the decorated tactician looks to have the Blue Eagles teach him the Filipino culture while Gomez teaches them the Euro-style of play.
“He’s gonna have lots of guys that he can learn about the Philippine style. He’s gonna need to do that because we all know it’s different.”
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