ANTIPOLO — Expectations within Far Eastern University are high that second year student-athlete L-Jay Gonzales can follow in the footsteps of the likes of Terrence Romeo, RR Garcia, and Mike Tolomia.
And for the past few games, the 5-foot-10 floor general showed he’s got the potential.
The FEU sophomore contributed 14 points on the back of 3-of-4 three-point shooting. He also had six rebounds and seven assists in the Tamaraws’ lopsided 81-60 victory over La Salle.
It was a pivotal victory in the unpredictable UAAP season, since the Tamaraws rose to solo fourth with a 6-6 slate — half-a-game ahead of the Green Archers.
“Sa isip namin, isang talo lang, pwedeng hindi na kami pumasok sa Final Four.
“‘Yun nga, parang ‘yung sinabi sa amin ni coach Olsen (Racela) na ‘yung mga laban namin ngayon, tatlong games pati ‘yung La Salle, puro do-or-die. Then parang napaisip-isip kami na ginawa naming motivation na isang talo lang ‘to, wala na, malalaglag na kami. ‘Yung mentality namin, gusto talaga naming manalo,” said the 20-year-old.
FEU and La Salle games always have a big atmosphere, since there is a tense history between both teams. This time around, with post-season ramifications, only a win would have done for each of them.
Thankfully for the Tamaraws, though, Gonzales look charge right from tip-off to torch the Green Archers.
“Para sa akin, nag-focus lang ako sa game then nag-eenjoy lang. Sa akin, bonus na lang maka-shoot eh. Gusto ko talaga sa team namin, nakaka-create ako, nakaka-pasa ako nang maganda. Parang sa akin, iniisip ko, sobrang saya ko. Nag-eenjoy ako kapag nakaka-shoot ako, kapag nakakapasa ako nang maayos,” said the UAAP Season 80 Juniors titlist.
“’Yun lang sinasabi sa akin ni coach Olsen sa akin, na ‘pag nasa loob ka, mag-create ka. ‘Yan ‘yung unang sinasabi sa akin eh, kung may shoot ka, mag-shoot ka,”
If there is one aspect of Gonzales’ game that he can still develop, it’s showing leadership on the court.
As a point guard, he has the responsibility to lead his team, maintain his teammates’ composure, and ensure that all goes well on both sides of the floor.
“Nakakatulong din kasi ‘yun nga, nakakatulong sa akin ‘yung pagiging (leader). Siyempre ‘pag ikaw point guard, ikaw mismo ‘yung nagle-lead sa court. Ikaw ‘yung leader, ikaw ‘yung nagsasabi kung ano ‘yung gagawin kaya para sa akin, makakatulong ako para sa team,” the native of San Mateo, Rizal explained.
And where better can Gonzales develop his capabilities as a leader than FEU, which has a coaching staff made up of former stars in the PBA such as Racela, Johnny Abarrientos, Mark Isip and Denok Miranda. With them on the sidelines, Racela knows that he has to take all the knowledge that he can.
“Sa akin, ano, ‘yung natutunan ko sa kanila kung ano ‘yung sinasabi nila kasi nandiyan naman ‘yung mga PBA legend na magsasabi sa akin kung anong gagawin ko. Kung anong ipapagawa nila, gagawin ko,” he disclosed.
“Sinabihan nila ako nila coach Denok (Miranda), coach Johnny (Abarrientos), na ito nagkamali ka nanaman, ganyan, ganyan. Next time, ibahin mo naman. Parang namo-motivate ako sa sinasabi nila.”