The University of the Philippines men's basketball team expressed its support for Juan and Javi Gomez de LiaAo as they decided to skip this year's UAAP men's basketball tournament in favor of their stint with the Gilas Pilipinas Men pool for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.
"The Gomez de LiaAo Brothers, Juan and Javi, have expressed their intention to devote their time to Gilas Pilipinas, and the UPMBT supports their move as it gives way to the greater calling of playing for country. UP is after all, all about serving the country and giving its best in service of the people," the Fighting Maroons said in a statement on Friday.
"The team is proud that they will represent UP in our endeavor to win glory for the country through basketball," it added.
Javi was the first to announce his decision to skip UAAP Season 83, while his younger brother followed suit on Thursday night, although both of them already contemplated possibly skipping this year's UAAP cagefest after their campaign last year came to an abrupt end during the stepladder semifinals.
"[My parents, friends, and the people I'm close to were] sad because they all wanna see me play in my last year," the older Gomez de LiaAo said on Thursday night when he told everyone about his decision.
Eventually, everyone supported the siblings' decision.
Meanwhile, UP said they are still part of its family.
"Still, they remain a part of the UP Men's Basketball Team," the Maroons said.
"The GDL brothers represent the best of the UP Basketball Program and we support their desire to serve our country by playing for the national team."
The Gomez de LiaAo brothers became vital pieces of the Fighting Maroons' transformation from league minnows to championship contenders.
"We are beyond grateful for their contributions to the uprising of the program in recent years," the statement read.
Meanwhile, Javi said he is open to play his final year of eligibility in 2021.
"They told me I'm welcome any time if I wanna play for Season 84. I'm keeping that open," he said.
Source: Philippines News Agency