Sophomore Juan Gomez De Liaño is proving that he can contribute in a number of ways for the UP Fighting Maroons.
Primarily known as a potent scorer, last season's Rookie of the Year has shown that he can expand his game and provide an all-around effort. In his last four games, he's been putting up his best Russell Westbrook impression and is racking up near-triple-double averages of 14.8 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.3 assists. His best output was a 15-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist masterpiece against the UE Red Warriors. The historic performance was the first of its kind in more than a decade.
Gomez De Liaño scored 10 points, grabbed nine boards, and dished out seven dimes, in UP's 82-71 win over the NU Bulldogs on Saturday. It seems that producing numbers from across the box score is the new norm for the young star. More importantly, UP is 3-1 in its last four outings and is now on pace for a postseason berth.
"Second round, I think my role is different compared to the first round," Gomez De Liaño shared. "First round, I was more of a scorer."
Despite the numbers, the versatile guard is no Westbrook, but more like a James Harden - smooth, controlled, and brimming with swagger. At 6-foot-1, he sees the floor like a point guard but also has the tenacity to get rebounds in the paint. Not to mention he also has the range and quickness to get a shot off any time he wants to.
Gomez De Liaño's sudden inclination to fill up the stat sheet all started when he came off the bench for the Fighting Maroons.
"My job is to create for my teammates and make them look better," he said, as he started to come off the bench in the game versus UE. "It was me trying to accept my role. Bright (Akhuetie) and Paul (Desiderio) are being aggressive so I just really have to create for them."
The Fighting Maroons certainly have a lot of weapons at their disposal. Akhuetie is a one-man wrecking machine, posting double-doubles left and right. Desiderio, meanwhile, remains the team's go-to guy in the perimeter. Gomez De Liaño's transition to not only come off the bench but also expand his repertoire, can only bode well for UP.
"Coach Bo (Perasol) still wants me to score, but I'd rather create for my teammates," he shared.
Gomez De Liaño will certainly be one of the vital pieces as UP hopes to close the second round with two more wins and a secured seat in the postseason. "I've been doing that and we've been getting Ws so I'll just continue doing it," he said about his all-around effort. "The W is all that matters."