LJ Gonzales makes most of first start for FEU Tamaraws
MANILA, Philippines—LJ Gonzales had to work his way into the starting lineup of Far Eastern University in the UAAP Season 82 men’s basketball tournament, and he did not disappoint in his first game as a starter.
The sophomore guard filled the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals in the Tamaraws’ 61-55 loss to University of the Philippines Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Gonzales said he feels elated to be part of the starting lineup but also pressured with the newfound responsibility.
“There is pressure for me but I also enjoy what I hear from other people rather than dwell negatively on it. For me, I’m just enjoying the ride,” said Gonzales in Filipino.
FEU head coach Olsen Racela was impressed with how Gonzales fared, taking into consideration that the sophomore “played backup to the backup point guard.”
Gonzales was Racela’s third-string point guard behind Axel Iñigo and Jasper Parker in Season 81 and he averaged 4.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 0.9 assists.
“That’s the story of college basketball, players graduate and new players come in,” said Racela, who shrugged off Gonzales’ 3-of-14 shooting line. “If given the opportunity, they should show that they could take responsibility.”
“I don’t really look at the scoring, LJ is an all-around player. There’s also his pressure defense. We’re investing in the youth and LJ is our present and future.”
Gonzales, meanwhile, wanted to show his team that he’s not a one-dimensional player.
“That’s what I wanted to do,” said Gonzales. “I want to show my team what I can do and help them in any way I can.”
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