MANILA, Philippines – Nueva Ecija looks to bounce back from a disappointing campaign in the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan Cup by adding 3 key players.
The Rice Vanguards acquired Gilas Pilipinas brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño and former PBA player Renz Palma, a Nueva Ecija native.
"It's no secret how much I like his game. I think he has the potential to be dominant in this league and maybe one of the faces of the MPBL," said Nueva Ecija head coach Charles Tiu of Juan.
"People forget to realize he's only 20 years old and once he starts maturing even more and becomes more of a leader, his game will really be elevated to another level."
Juan recently saw action for Gilas Pilipinas for the first time and showed he can make an immediate impact even in the international scene, scoring 10 points in a 100-70 win over Indonesia.
Meanwhile, Tiu seeks to unlock the potential of Javi, who – like his brother Juan –decided to take a break from the University of the Philippines to focus on national team duties.
The 6-foot-4 Javi emerged as the third leading scorer for UP in Season 82, averaging 10.5 points per game on a 35% clip from downtown.
"Javi has improved so much in the last year and he will now have a huge role on our team," Tiu said.
"We plan to give him more opportunities as a wing and a guard, to further help him in his development in his career."
The transition of the Gomez de Liaño brothers to the MPBL will be made easier as they already played under Tiu for the Mighty Sports team that ruled the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Championship.
Meanwhile, Tiu sees an impact player in Palma, an athletic guard nabbed by Blackwater with the 15th overall pick in the 2017 PBA Draft but played sparingly during his time with the club.
"He's a solid two-way wing player who will really help us with his energy," Tiu said of Palma.
Nueva Ecija wound up at 11th place in the Southern Division in the Lakan Cup, ending its campaign with a 10-20 record. – Rappler.com