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THE YOUNG458 

Leading the charge: Ljay Gonzales fighting for his dream, family and the FEU community

by Reynald Magallon, September 20, 2019 4:46pm

For most people, basketball is just a sport, just a ball game. There will be a winner and a loser at the end the buzzer. But to some, it's more than just a game, it's a way of life, a dream, and a chance to have better future.

The same could be said on why Far Eastern University (FEU) Tamaraws sophomore guard Ljay Gonzales tried his luck in Manila to play basketball.

It only started as a leisure activity that his uncles used to love. Joining inter-barangay leagues back in his elementary days, the young Gonzales sharpened his basketball fundamentals in the rough courts in San Mateo, Isabela.

"Nag simula po ako mag laro elementary po then tapos tinuturuan lang ako ng tito ko tapos sumasama sama ako sa,kanila pag may liga sa barangay kaya dun ako natuto," Gonzales told Courtside Philippines.

From there, the love for the sport just grew on him naturally and it went on until he got the chance to represent his region in the Palarong Pambansa when he was in Grade Nine. They played some university junior teams in Manila to gear up for the Nationals, and one team they were able to beat were the FEU Baby Tamaraws. That triumph proved to be not just a win for his team, but also a  grandeur victory for Gonzales.

Baby Tams head coach Allan Albano asked Gonzales if he wants to study and play for FEU.

"Noong high school ako Grade 9, nag Palarong Pambasa ako sa Tagum, Davao," he said. "Bago kami pumunta sa Davao, pumunta kami dito sa Manila, nakipag tune up kami sa FEU tapos tinalo namin sila. Tinanong ako ni Coach Allan Albano kung gusto ko raw maglaro dito sa FEU." 

At that point, Gonzales already knew that basketball was not just a sport he was passionate to play. It opened doors for him and a chance to have a better life.

"Grinab ko agad 'yung opportunity na makapag laro sa malaking school. Sinabe ko sa parents ko na mag aaral na ako dito sa Manila, na kinukuha ako ng FEU para maglaro at mag-aral, sobrang saya nila sobrang saya ko rin kasi natulungan ko parents ko," said Gonzales.

Seeing those happy faces just motivates Gonzales to make strides and be better even at this point even if it means being away from his beloved family. Gonzales is willing endure it just to have the chance to give his family a better future.

"Nahirapan ako na mag-adjust, sabi ko sa sarili ko ganito pala mararamdaman mo kapag malayo ka sa parents mo. Siyempre, malungkot pero ang ginagawa ko, gingawa ko nalang motivation 'yung parents ko," said the young playmaker.

"Kung paano ko sila tutulungan, hindi ko iniisip na hindi ko kasama parents ko. Ang inisip ko sa sarili kung paaano ko masuklian yong mga binigay nila para, sa akin para makapunta dito sa FEU. Hindi naman ako makakapunta,dito kong hindi dahil sa kanila kaya gingawa ko nalang motivation parents ko," he added.

"Sobrang nag-papasalamat ako sa parents ko ng sobra-sobra. Kung hindi dahil sa kanila, hindi ko maabot tong pangarap ko sa buhay."

As a loving son that he is, Gonzales is keeping his family as his motivation why he's giving his all every game for FEU.

'Parents ko and hinding hindi mawawla si God na inspiration ko. Hindi ko naman makakayang mag isa kong hindi ko kasma si God and parents ko," he said.

Also, Gonzales does not forget the school that trusted and gave him the opportunity to be better. He was even tagged by his head coach Olsen Racela as the future of the Tamaraws basketball.

"Unang una nag papasalamat ako sa mga coaches na walang sawang nagtuturo sa akin hindi lang sa basketball pati rin sa buhay. Oo andun yung presure (to live up with the expectation) pero ang gingawa ko nalang nag papasalamat ako sa mga coach na naguturo sa akin. Hinding hindi ko sasayangin lahat ng sinasabi nila para sa akin," he explained.

Gonzales also vowed to give his everything and help his Tamaraws reach the Final Four once again despite of their young line-up.

"Para sa akin hinding hindi ako magsasawang mag trabaho at mag hard work. Gagawin ko lahat ng makakaya ko para sa pangarap ko. Gusto ko makapasok kame ng Final Four muna bago Finnals pero hindi naman basta basta makapasok sa mga ganitong bagay kung hindi kame mag tratrabaho. Kailangan ko at buong teammates, coaches na mag trabaho kami para maabot namin 'yung goal namin."

Embodying the Tamaraws' "be brave" spirit, Gonzales is ready to lead the charge for the Green and Gold for his family, his dream, and the entire FEU community.

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