MANILA, Philippines—Javi Gomez de Liaño was very nearly the hero for University of the Philippines in their knockout game against University of Santo Tomas.
Gomez de Liaño had an opportunity to put the Fighting Maroons ahead in the final seconds, with the team trailing 66-65. Kobe Paras mishandled the ball on a triple attempt, but Gomez de Liaño managed to gain control of the ball.
In one motion, he moved to lay the ball into the hoop, but misjudged his own strength. The ball swirled in and out of the bucket, and the Tigers controlled the rebound. UST won 68-65 to advance to the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball finals.
"It was a really close shot, should've made it. Maybe it's meant to be. Maybe we weren't meant to go to the finals this year," said Gomez de Liaño, who finished with just 2 points on 1-of-5 shooting in the defeat.
"Pinasa sa akin pero tumalon agad ako. Minadali ko ata."
It was a sorry end to UP's season, as the Fighting Maroons squandered a twice-to-beat advantage in the stepladder semifinals and bowed to a UST team that was seeded fourth.
Yet Gomez de Liaño remained in high spirits afterward, insisting that their campaign in Season 82 was among the happiest times of his life.
"No regrets," he said. "So fun, honestly. We didn't get to the finals, but beyond basketball I enjoyed with them. They're really my family."
"We really had to work on a lot of things, honestly. It's a big challenge for our team to make things work. Despite all that, we enjoyed and at least we made it to the final 4, and I'm just really happy," he said.
Gomez de Liaño, who averaged 10.4 points and 3.36 rebounds per game, has a decision to make in the offseason. He is contemplating entering the PBA draft, or accepting an offer to the MPBL.
"I'll just have to ask guidance from some people. Coaches, players, and I wanna know where I land," said Gomez de Liaño of possibly entering the Rookie Draft. "I mean, that's an option. And another option is if ever I can get a good offer from MPBL."
"Another option is to play my final year, but I don't have a sure plan yet. Those are just my layout plans for the offseason," he added.
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