UP’s Desiderio, Gomez de Liaño to make most of chance to play for Gilas
From University of the Philippines to Gilas Pilipinas.
State U was well represented in coach Chot Reyes’ “23-for-23” list with the inclusion of Paul Desiderio and Juan Gomez de Liaño, who attended the national team’s evening practice session on Monday at Meralco Gym.
And as expected, the two Fighting Maroons are overwhelmed to be part of the pool.
“I’m so happy,” said Desiderio, who was part of the Batang Gilas team which competed in the 2014 Fiba Under-17 World Championship in Dubai. “I was in Cebu and (Gilas assistant) coach Ryan (Betia) was trying to call me. When I received his text, I wanted to immediately come back to Manila.”
The 18-year-old Gomez de Liaño, who previously donned the national tri-colors in the 2015 Fiba Asia Under-16 Championship in Jakarta, also shared the same sentiment.
“I actually got shocked when I got the call from SBP saying that I made the pool for 2023. I was really excited for it and looking forward to working with these guys. I’m really thankful for it,” he said.
Given this rare chance to join some of the best basketball players in the country, both are reveling in this opportunity to learn valuable lessons.
“It’s really overwhelming,” said Gomez de Liaño, who was feted as the UAAP Season 80 Rookie of the Year. “This is the first time I met all of them and I hope to learn from Gabe Norwood and Jayson Castro because I like their playing styles. I’ll just make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity, just enjoying the process because I’m still young.”
Desiderio added: “This will be a big help for my basketball career because I’ll learn so much from them.”
Both are also well aware that the 2023 is still a long way to go.
And right now, they are optimistic that this stint could only help them for the better as they seek to tow UP to the Final Four for the first time in two decades in the next UAAP season.
“It’s exciting for UP’s future since both of us were handpicked,” said Gomez de Liaño.
“This will be big for us especially that this will be my last year. So it’s huge that I’m here with Juan because once our wings graduate, he will be the one to lead the team and carry UP. So I’m really happy for him,” he said.
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