Sports Maroon turned green: GDL bros bring play to DLSU
Sports Maroon turned green: GDL bros bring play to DLSU
Maroon turned green: GDL bros bring play to DLSU
April 1, 2020
April 1, 2020

Through a heartfelt letter released on Instagram and Twitter, former UP Fighting Maroons Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño shocked UAAP basketball fans as the brothers announced that they will be officially taking their talents to the DLSU Green Archers.

In an exclusive follow-up interview with The LuhSallian, both players acknowledged the Diliman-based community and sought the welcoming arms of Lasallians. Furthermore, Season 80 Rookie of the Year Juan described the decision as “challenging” and “emotional”, yet is something to be extremely excited about.

Looking forward

“Thank you UP!!! Hello DLSU!!!” both exclaimed on their respective social media accounts. Minutes after the publicity, the fans of the brothers and the Lasallian community were caught in a turmoil, leaving them intrigued and confused with the revelation.

Mixed emotions were displayed in threads online, but dominant were feelings of dismay from the Maroon die-hards. As seen in the content of the posts, the brothers greeted them with gratitude for their unending support while they played with pride wearing their Maroon jerseys. Nevertheless, they hope to be remembered as once UP players.

“We hope that you will all support our choices and especially us as players,” Javi stated in his letter. “We’re on the way to becoming bonafide Lasallian stars!”

While neither of the two disclosed any explicit reason behind the sudden change, they claimed that DLSU was once their dream school when they were younger, with Juan saying, “I think that the archer is the perfect symbol for a basketball player—shooting arrows, shooting hoops.”

Moving on to greener pastures

Departing from Fighting Maroons was a difficult decision for the Gomez de Liaño brothers since they began and established their careers in UP, dreaming of winning a title for the Maroons. However, a new opportunity arose in DLSU as a new era of Green Archers basketball has begun. 

Spitfire guard Juan explains, “I feel like La Salle will be the best fit for us. I mean coach Derrick [Pumaren] likes to play up-tempo, and you got guys like Aljun [Melecio] and the new kid, Evan [Nelle] who speed up the game. Also, physical players like Balti [Baltazar] who can spread the floor is something that makes playmaking easier.” 

The move to the Taft-based squad was facilitated by coach Derrick Pumaren personally reaching out to them and laying out the plans in the upcoming seasons. Seeing the promising prospects of the Green Archers, the brothers became ecstatic to join forces with their new teammates. “Maganda ‘yung outlook ng team. Moving forward, I’m really optimistic na I’ll learn to communicate na rin with them using conyo. Like dude, I can’t wait to work with these guys, you know,” Juan reveals.

Same but different

Transferring to another team is not a unique and isolated controversy in the UAAP community as it has already happened several times before—the latest case being former Green Archer Ricci Rivero now donning the UP uniform. It even led to heated discussions on social media, especially from DLSU fans who felt dismayed after hearing the news. With time, the emotions dwindled, and basketball viewers have now settled to discuss newer issues.

In a parallel manner, players from Diliman switched sides to Taft in the form of the Gomez de Liaño brothers. Fans were similarly astonished after their announcement and raised a ruckus in the social media—as if rewinding the past—but this will perhaps soon subside, too. 

Given their stellar performances in the previous UAAP tournaments, losing the two may impact the setup of the Fighting Maroons and prove to be a hurdle for the team’s campaign for a championship title in the coming years. On the other hand, their addition in the DLSU roster for Season 84 onward may bring greater glory for the Green-and-White beyond the University rankings. 

Pumaren, being the mastermind behind inviting the prized recruits, could not contain his excitement to mentor the high-scoring brothers. The head coach immediately expressed his desire to build a core team that consists of Juan and Javi along with other Lasallian veterans. Coach Derrick affirms, “Nagpapasalamat ako na in-accept nila yung call ko para maging part ng team. Malaki maitutulong nila kasi matalino ‘yung approach nila sa laro—syempre, galing UP eh. Tsaka marami na kaming sharp-shooter, makukumpleto na namin ‘yung five-pointed star ng La Salle. Other teams should watch out.”

(I am grateful to both of them for heeding my call to be part of the team. They will be a big help to us because they approach the game smartly—of course, they come from UP. We now have a lot of sharp-shooters, so we’ll be able to complete La Salle’s five-pointed star.)|

Grind never stops

Although required to sit out Season 83 due to the residency period, the two will dedicate their time and skills for Gilas Pilipinas duties in preparation for the FIBA World Cup 2023. Javi shares that college basketball has been an integral part of their lives. “In a way, we don’t want to let go yet because it has helped our growth as players. So yeah, we’re gonna finish our playing years then finally move on to the professional level,” says the 6’5” wingman.

Nevertheless, both assure that they are still committed to development of the national team program. “Of course, we still have our eyes fixed on 2023, and we’re excited to keep shooting our shot to make sure we don’t lose our shot,” the older Gomez de Liaño bares.

The Gomez de Liaño siblings will also use the time to get to know their new campus, blockmates, teammates, and coaching staff. Javi emphasizes, “We’re honored to be here. Hopefully, I’ll be able to adjust with the ‘Taft life’.” As for their education, Juan and Javi will continue to pursue their degrees in Sports Science and Business Management, respectively.