MANILA, Philippines -- After three years, University of the Philippines standout Juan Gómez de Liaño will return to the version of basketball that he first loved -- 3x3.
The 6-foot-1 guard, who is currently on a break from the Fighting Maroons, will suit up for the Nueva Ecija Vanguards in the upcoming 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup, to be held in a "bubble" at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
"I was introduced to 3x3 basketball when I was 8 or 9 years old. I would play 3x3 with grownups; I grew up playing in the streets. You see everyone in the streets. They won't be playing (5-on-5) basketball," the Fil-Spaniard told FIBA 3x3.
Though he grew up playing the halfcourt game, it was only in 2017 that Gómez de Liaño was able to showcase his talent in the FIBA 3x3 circuit.
Together with AJ Edu, Rhayyan Amsali, and Encho Serrano, the quartet led the Philippines to an unprecedented seventh place finish in the FIBA Under-18 World Cup.
"It was very positive. Coming into that tournament, I remember there weren't high expectations for us. We finished seventh but that was a great experience being able to compete at a high level," he said.
Gómez de Liaño will now be the young gun in Nueva Ecija, a team that features Gab Banal. Former Ateneo guards Tonino Gonzaga and Jai Reyes complete the team, as Juan's brothers Joe and Javi had to back out.
For Juan -- who holds a special guest license from the Games and Amusements Board -- they are determined to make their mark in the competition.
"We joined this tournament with one mindset -- to win," he stressed.
The President's Cup will be held Oct. 21-30.