CALAMBA, LAGUNA – Juan Gomez de Liaño is still recovering from his right ankle sprain and will not play for the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards in the Grand Finals 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup powered by TM.
Nueva Ecija, the third-seed in the road to the ‘Million Peso Game’ on Friday, decided to sit out its playmaker with an eye towards his future.
“There’s so much to risk about his future,” said playing team manager Jai Reyes in the pre-Grand Finals press conference on Thursday afternoon. “Although this is a major tournament for us and we really want to win, it’s unfair to him if pilitin namin siya lumaro.”
The Rice Vanguards will lineup the quartet of Reyes, Gab Banal, Mac Sabellina, and Tonino Gonzaga.
GDL took the Philippines’ pioneering professional 3×3 league by storm in the preseason and first leg before spraining his right ankle in Leg 2.
He was ruled out for the next two legs, but was eyeing a return in the ultimate winner-take-all tournament.
However, Nueva Ecija’s physical therapist determined that the 20-year-old is not yet 100 percent.
“Gusto niyang lumaro, but the assessment is hindi pa niya kaya na full speed,” said Reyes. “We don’t want to risk everything.”
Without Gomez de Liano, the Rice Vanguards were able to make one finals appearance in three legs.
Still, expect GDL to make his presence felt in all of the Rice Vanguards’ remaining games. As Reyes put it, “For the past legs na ‘di siya nakakalaro, he’s always there to cheer us. He’ll still be there tomorrow.”