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Javi Gomez de Liaño targets Season 84 return, brother Juan unsure

Wanting to take care of unfinished business, Javi Gomez de Liaño assured that he will be returning to the UP Fighting Maroons in UAAP Season 84.

In Friday's episode of The Prospects Pod, the 21-year-old forward said he plans to play out his fifth and final year of eligibility once he finishes his stint with the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards in the MPBL next year.

"Next year, I really want to play again for UP right after my stint with Nueva Ecija. Pero delayed," he said citing the MPBL's cancelled 2020-21 season. "Next year, I'm going to play with Nueva Ecija pa rin. Whenever Season 84 is [coming], I'll be playing for UP as well."

Javi said he actually mulled declaring for the 2019 PBA Draft, but his desire to help UP win its first men's basketball championship since 1986 prevailed over anything else.

"Ever since high school, promise ko sa sarili ko na gusto ko mag-champion ang UP bago ako mag-graduate. Actually I was thinking to go to the PBA Draft last year, kaso 'di ko talaga matanggal sa isip ko 'yung to bring a championship to UP one day," he shared.

His brother Juan, on the other hand, is still non-committal about returning.

"I've been in UP for seven years, and personally, I just want to bring a championship, kahit isa lang. Pero I decided to sit out [Season 83]. Let's just see what's gonna happen next. I'm gonna chase a dream eh," Juan said.

At the moment, Juan said all options are on the table -- including playing overseas once an offer comes along.

"There are a few (feelers), actually, pero nothing official eh, so I wouldn't say actual offer talaga siya," he said. "Personally sa'kin, it's been a goal of mine to play overseas. Especially that I have a Spanish passport, it would be much easier to play in different clubs.

"But I'm just taking it one day at a time. Pagtanda ko, I don't wanna look back and say, 'Nung bata ako, I should have done this.' I just don't want that to happen. I just wanna make the most out of everything that I have right now, especially now while I'm young."

The duo announced last February that they would be sitting out UP's campaign in Season 83, citing opportunities to grow outside collegiate basketball as their primary reason. Both subsequently announced signing with Nueva Ecija in the MPBL, and they were later named to Gilas Pilipinas' 24-man pool for the first window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers against Thailand.

Juan, a former Rookie of the Year and Mythical Team member, made the final 12-man lineup and logged good minutes with the Nationals, scoring 10 points (4-for-6 shooting) and adding two assists and a steal in only 11 minutes.

"For me, it was an amazing experience. Just to be surrounded by great teammates, great players and also such an incredible coaching staff. Ako personally what I did was just learned and tried to get better and improve my game," he said. "Tsaka just having the chance to compete at such a high level, nacha-challenge ako kasi matchup ko guys like Kiefer (Ravena). What I want to do is prove I really belong in this team. All in all, it was really a great experience for me."

Though Javi did not make the cut, the leap he made in his fourth year with UP was enough to merit him a full-time spot with Gilas' training pool. He was the Fighting Maroons' third-best scorer in Season 82, averaging 9.4 points on 47.1 percent shooting, including a solid 35.4 percent mark from long range in 16 games.

"It's actually my first time being called up to the Gilas pool. That opportunity pa lang, it's really a big lesson for me and I really learned a lot," said Javi. "Even though I didn't make the cut, I really learned a lot and I'm looking forward to hoping to get back and train with the pool again soon."