Band of brothers: UP's Gomez de Liaños, NU's Ildefonsos shine

MANILA, Philippines – Talent really runs in the family.

When the University of the Philippines escaped National University with a one-point win, 89-88, on Sunday, October 7, it was also an athletic showdown between a fast-rising pair of brothers – the UP Fighting Maroons' Gomez the Liaños and the NU Bulldogs' Ildefonsos.

And in their first collective matchup in the collegiate level, the tandem of Juan and Javi GDL and the duo of Dave and Shaun Ildefonso – the sons of hoops legend Danny, who is also active on the NU sidelines as an assistant coach – prove they're all good as billed.

Juan stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals in almost 38 minutes of action. Javi was no slouch off the bench, sparking UP with a career-high 19 points, 8 boards, 4 dimes and a block. The pair even connected on a perfect transition alley-oop in the 2nd quarter with Juan dishing and Javi finishing.

But the Ildefonsos also brought their A-game in the heartbreaking loss. Dave dropped a career-best 20 points with 6 boards and 6 assists with no turnovers in just 25 minutes on the floor. Big bro Shaun had 12 markers and 8 boards with a swat in exactly 20 minutes.

After the game, both brotherly duos gave one another due props for their standout performances. Dave in particular, heaped high praise on Juan, UP's undoubted go-to scorer.

"Si Juan matagal ko na nakilala iyan. RP Under-16, may kulitan [na]," Dave said after the game. "Juan is a very skillful player and it's his time now, it's his time. He's at his prime and he's just going to get better and better."

(I've known Juan for a long time. We were already horsing around in the RP Under-16.)

Likewise, the GDLs held the Ildefonsos in high regard.

"They're young and good," Javi said. "Dave is really aggressive. Shaun is really showing his game and he wasn't able to show that in Ateneo. I think it's a good move for them to transfer to NU. They can maximize their potential. They're both good players."

"Dave is a really good close friend of mine," Juan chimed in. "We've been teammates since Batang Gilas days so it was really just fun competing with them."

Competitive sparks flew in the brothers' first match together, and it certainly won't be the last. It's frightening to think that all of them are nowhere near their primes. –