MANILA, Philippines -- Juan Gomez de Liano will not play for third-seeded Nueva Ecija in the grand finals of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup, scheduled for Friday at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Gomez de Liano is still recovering from an ankle sprain that he suffered in the very first leg of the competition, when he landed on the foot of Bacolod's Chris Lalata during a group stage game.
He missed the next three legs, and as he remains less than 100%, Nueva Ecija opted not to field in the University of the Philippines (UP) standout for the grand finals. Instead, the Rice Vanguards will feature playing team manager Jai Reyes, Maclean Sabellina, Gab Banal, and Tonino Gonzaga.
"Andoon siya sa therapy room right now," Reyes said during a press conference, Thursday afternoon. "There's so much to risk about his future eh, for one 3x3 event."
"We just weighed the pros and cons, and I think it's unfair to him kung pipilitin namin siyang maglaro," he added.
Reyes stressed that Gomez de Liano wanted to play in the grand finals. The UP star had been excited for his return to the 3x3 stage, having represented the country in the continental level in FIBA 3x3 events.
He even got a special guest license from the Games and Amusements Board in order to play in the President's Cup.
"Gusto niya talaga maglaro for tomorrow's leg," said Reyes. "Pero ang assessment ko and also our PT (physical therapist), hindi pa talaga kaya ni Juan na mag-full speed eh. So we don't wanna risk it."
Gomez de Liano averaged 7.5 points per game before suffering the injury with 5:15 to go in the contest against Bacolod.
Even without the former UAAP Rookie of the Year, the Rice Vanguards have impressed in the first professional season of the pioneering 3x3 league. They made it to the finals in the second leg, losing to Zamboanga City Chooks.
They will enter the final leg as the third seed after compiling 240 points in the first four legs of the competition.