Another Filipino will make waves in the B.League.
Juan Gómez de Liaño has signed with B.League Division 2 team Earth Friends Tokyo Z.
The 21-year-old product of University of the Philippines will be the third player signing with a team in Japan’s premier league. He follows Thirdy Ravena of San-En and Kiefer Ravena of Shiga.
For Gómez de Liaño, playing overseas had always been his goal. But it had to come earlier due to the ongoing pandemic that has stopped play in the country.
“It’s hard to pass up these kinds of opportunities especially during a hard time like what we are experiencing right now,” he told Tiebreaker Times.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play overseas and I’m glad to have this chance. This is a good way to start my pro career, especially being in Tokyo.”
Also helping in Gómez de Liaño’s decision to play in Japan was the team’s head coach Hugo López, who replaced Shunsuke Todo early this year.
The 6-foot-1 combo guard, who will be the team’s Asian quota player, and the head coach of the Swedish national team have been in constant communication over the past month. They plotted how they could lift Tokyo — a team that coming off a seventh-place finish in B2’s Eastern Division. It finished with a 13-46 slate.
“A big factor in this decision was the relationship I have developed with Coach Hugo. He had a lot of trust in me and he said that I’m going to fit well in his system,” he recalled about their talks through Zoom.
“He is a well-known and highly respected coach not just in Europe, but worldwide. I’m just really excited to play under Coach Hugo.”
Also helping out in the negotiations were Siegel Sports & Entertainment’s Michael Siegel and Tim Edwards. Introducing Gómez de Liaño to Siegel Sports is Eric Pasion of EP Workouts.
During his three-year stay in UP, Gómez de Liaño averaged 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.
In 2020, he received a call-up from Gilas Pilipinas to play in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. In the three games he played, he posted norms of 12.0 points, 3.0 assists, and 3.0 rebounds.
Gómez de Liaño vowed that in this new journey, he will continue to represent the country in every game.
“I’m not just representing myself or my family when I get to Tokyo. I’ll continue to give glory to our country to the best of my abilities,” he said.