By KERRY TINGA
Images by MIGUEL ROJALES
We had just caught the Gomez de Liaño brothers before the holidays, and between their busy schedules, we were able to sit down for an interview that pretty much consisted of trying to talk over the sizzle of Korean barbecue being grilled. Delicious? Yes. Ideal for an interview? Not particularly.
Nevertheless, over the course of the quick meal, we got to learn more about two members of the team that has rekindled the University of the Philippines’ (UP) community spirit in support of the Fighting Maroons. The brothers led their team’s offense in the monumental game against De La Salle University (DLSU) that saw UP’s return to the Final Four after a 21-year dry spell in Season 81, and they continue to be standouts in the league both as a tandem and as individual players.
Javi and Juan Gomez de Liaño recently stirred up some doubts over their return for the forthcoming UAAP season with cryptic social media posts and vague statements. Coyfully playing around the subject, they both seemed excited to enter the new year, before ultimately letting out their eager anticipation to (probably) play their best for UP yet again.
“2020 is probably my last playing year at UP, so it’s my last chance to end things really well.”
Javi, a 21-year-old sports science student, showed level-headedness as he talked about discipline, particularly with a healthy diet, his main New Year’s Resolution. He quickly shifted his tone, showing a low-key and dry sense of humor as he added that, since it was still the holiday season, “the diet starts tomorrow.”
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For this week's #BreakTime, or #MBYouth's young profile, we featured #upfightingmaroons power duo the Gomez De Liaño brothers Juan and Javi. While extremely serious about their sport, it was refreshing to see how the basket bros appreciate the experiences life has to offer positive thoughts come what may. Click the in our bio to read the story. #BeFullyInformed
“I am really, really looking forward to 2020. Really excited. A lot of tournaments and leagues coming up,” his younger brother, Juan, was friendly and animated as he talked about what the near future holds, “I am [also] really excited to travel the world and to be able to experience new things and different cultures and just have a good time.”
Already at the start of the year the brothers are travelling to the United Arab Emirates as part of the Mighty Sports team competing in the Dubai International Basketball Championships. This will undoubtedly hold new experiences for the brothers to learn from and, with hope, give them a good time as well.
“Positive thoughts every day, that is what is going to make you continue to grow as a better person,” said Juan, “For me, for us, as a better player as well. Just stay positive, whatever the situation.”
“For me, dealing with those kinds of things, especially for the young ones, it is really important to have a healthy mind. It is really just temporary,” Javi quickly added, “For example, I had a couple of bad games last season. But I didn’t stop. I would tell myself tomorrow will be better so I just keep going.”
When asked about an embarrassing moment that would be fun to include in the profile, Juan offered one that we personally do not think is that embarrassing, but goes to show the type of young people the brothers are.
“Well, it was during practice. A lot of people were watching, the management, everyone. After practice, we had a dunk contest. We would do crazy dunks. There was a time everybody was hyped up and I went for a dunk. I wasn’t sure if I made it, and I landed awkwardly. Everybody started laughing, and I stood up like nothing happened.”
He said it with a smile on his face as if it were really nothing. Their lighthearted energy played off each other (they’re brothers after all) and they seemed to genuinely be enjoying themselves, their youth, and their journey.
While extremely serious about the sport, it was refreshing to see how they wholly appreciate the best of the experiences life has to offer, with positive thoughts come what may.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed as a young person nowadays. We look on the news and read that “the house is on fire,” first metaphorically (the way Greta Thunberg used it), and recently literally (referring to the devastating fires in Australia). It is commendable that the youth have taken on so much responsibility for the world they are to inherit, or even to challenge themselves in their daily lives. At the same time, however, they may hinder themselves by getting caught up in the stress and anxiety attached to goals, from the monumental to the personal.
But to be young is to make mistakes and fall, only to laugh it off and pick ourselves up to try again. It is to take opportunities and experiences wherever they may be found. At this point in life, everything is ahead, so might as well look at what is in store with positive thoughts and a smile on our face.