During the off-season of 2017, a young kid from UPIS made a bold declaration. He claimed that he would be part of the team that will end the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons’ Final Four drought.
That kid was Juan Gomez de Liano, who was fresh off winning the UAAP Season 79 Juniors Basketball Most Valuable Player crown. And it’s because for his entire high school life, “the school has been good to him.”
Even if they fell short of making the Final Four last season, Gomez de Liano’s faith never wavered.
And Wednesday evening, the dream became a reality, as UP made it to the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Basketball Final Four. Not only that, they will enter as the third seed of the tournament.
Of course, it had to be Gomez de Liano who led the way. The 6-foot-2 combo guard tallied 27 big points to lift UP to a 97-81 stunner over the De La Salle University Green Archers.
“I knew it was coming.
“I actually thought last year ng sana eh, then we fell short. Then I promised ever since, off-season last year, I told everyone that we’re gonna make the Final Four. Here we are,” shared a visibly-gassed Gomez de Liano.
And the first person the 19-year-old went to after the win was his mentor Bo Perasol, who had personally recruited him to go up to UP’s senior team.
“I think ever since I committed, I promised him a Final Four spot as soon as possible. Here we are right now,” added Gomez de Liano, who is just in his second year.
“It took me six long years to get to this point,” he added, begging to differ that it had only taken two.
“Hard work really paid off – those early mornings and late nights working.”
But the work is not yet over for Gomez de Liano. After fulfilling his promise to UP, he is about to make another one.
“Next step now, the team’s very hungry to win a championship. We’ll have to work.”