THE Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards will be missing the services of prolific guard Juan Gomez de Liano in the Grand Finals of the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Presidents Cup presented by TM on Friday, October 30, 2020, at the INSPIRE Academy in Laguna.
De Liaño is still recovering from the right ankle sprain that he suffered way back in the opening leg of this competition. Nueva Ecija, the third-seed in the road to the “Million Peso Game” on Friday, decided to sit out its playmaker with an eye towards his future.
“There’s so much to risk about his future,” remarked playing team manager Jai Reyes in the pre-Grand Finals press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“Although this as a major tournament for us and we really want to win, it’s unfair to him if pilitin namin siya lumaro,” he added.
De Liano took the Philippines’ pioneering professional 3x3 league by storm in the preseason and first leg before spraining his right ankle in Leg 2. He was ruled out for the next two legs, but was eyeing a return in the ultimate winner-take-all tournament.
However, Nueva Ecija's physical therapist determined that the 20-year-old is not yet 100 percent.
"Gusto niyang lumaro, but the assessment is hindi pa niya kaya na full speed," said Reyes. "We don't want to risk everything."
Without de Liano, Nueva Ecija will trot out the quartet of Reyes, Gab Banal, Maclean Sabellina, and Tonino Gonzaga.