Juan Gomez de Liaño signed up to play for B.League team Earthfriends Tokyo Z not just to improve as a player.
For the 21-year-old University of the Philippines standout, living alone abroad will also help him grow as an individual.
“Personally, I felt that I was going to grow as an individual coming to Japan,” he said in a video posted by Earthfriends Tokyo Z. “I really love the place, the culture, the people.
“I really felt like it was a good opportunity for me to grow, not just as a basketball player, but as a person as well. Being independent and doing the little things to keep me going.”
But a day prior to their season debut against Kagawa last Saturday, Gomez de Liaño received some bad news – his grandfather had passed away.
“Yesterday, my grandfather passed away so we had a Zoom meeting,” he bared. “I talk to my family almost every day to keep in touch and keep on updating each other. It’s a happy feeling once I get to my room to talk to my parents, my brothers, my sister, my girlfriend, and my close friends.
“It’s a tough situation for us because right now my grandfather in Spain, passed away last night.”
Of course, the 6-foot-1 combo guard wanted to give his all for Earthfriends, but he felt emotionally down.
In their first game, Gomez de Liaño was limited to just three minutes of game time. He tallied two points, an assist, and a steal against two turnovers in Tokyo Z’s 82-89 loss to Kagawa.
A day later, he played 16 minutes, finishing with 10 points, two rebounds, and a steal. Earthfriends, though, still bowed to the Five Arrows, 85-100.
“I really wanted to play yesterday but I was not able to play.
“Firepower and motivation, I wasn’t able to provide that,” lamented Gomez de Liano. “It’s the cycle of life. It’s part of life so we just have to move on from it and just continue to pray.”
Gomez de Liaño, though, knows that he is no longer a student-athlete. In Japan, he is now an import tasked to deliver on a nightly basis.
He knows that though he lost a special person, he has to move on and bounce back.
And it begins this weekend when he and Tokyo Z head to Yamagata to take on the Wyverns.
“Just improve every day and that’s the best way to go through life. Just take in the lessons and grow. My motivation is my family.
“First weekend, just really wanted to win actually and play for my team, my family back home, and my country, the Philippines,” he said. “We didn’t want to end things that way but it’s a learning process. For me personally, I just want to control the things I want to control. We’ll get back next week, for sure!
“We had a bad start but we just need to have a positive mindset, positive energy, positive vibes, and good environment heading to practice. Just win as much games as we can, make it to the playoffs, and, hopefully, bring home the championship,” he closed.