Kevin Quiambao had his eyes on the three teams that defeated La Salle in the first round of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.
After an 88-78 victory over National University (NU) in the second round, the multifaceted big man let his motivation slip.
“We lost to them in the first round,” he said, referring to a close 80-77 decision hammered out by the Bulldogs during the first meeting of both schools. “I didn’t want that to happen again.”
So decided was Quiambao that NU’s first-round victory would be a one-off that he poured in a rare triple-double, one of two he would accomplish in the season. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 17 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds and four steals in the second-round clash between the Archers and the Bulldogs, a big leap from his 25 points, nine rebounds and four assists in the first-round defeat.
That served as a warning to the other teams that beat La Salle in the first round. None of them were able to do anything about it anyway.
By the time Quiambao was done getting back at first-round tormentors, the national pool member downplayed his revenge tour.
“For me, I just doubled my effort and then my mindset coming into this game was that we cannot lose, because the team is already on the rise in terms of growth. The learning process and curve was there,” Quiambao told the Inquirer last Sunday, after La Salle held off fierce rival Ateneo, 72-69, to sweep through its second-round calendar.
“I always tell the team to enjoy this moment because of the huge and intense crowd,” he added.
Quiambao finished with 14 points, 9 rebounds and six assists against Ateneo, the only get-back game where he was statistically lower than his output in the first-round defeat. Quiambao had 17 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks when Ateneo beat La Salle, 77-72, in their first meeting.
“The team didn’t have revenge in its mind. Our mindset was to just focus on what’s in front of us and what we can do about it … We really just enjoy playing. We had each other’s backs,” the La Salle program cornerstone added.
Top seed University of the Philippines (UP) also got a taste of Quiambao’s payback.
After finishing with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in a 67-64 defeat to the Maroons in their first meeting, Quiambao finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three steals and two assists in an 88-79 victory by the Archers in the second round.
Those clutch victories helped La Salle finish at No. 2 with an 11-3 (win-loss) card and gave the archers valuable protection in the Final Four.
“Coach [Topex] always says that the growth rose starting from our loss to UP in the first round and credit also goes to my teammates who lowered their ego for coach’s system,” Quiambao said.
La Salle will battle National University in the Final Four, needing to win just once to eliminate NU while having an extra game in its pocket to fish out in case the Bulldogs win their semifinal match.
“The matches will be intense and whoever we face, I know they will not go down easily—and we are the same way. We’ll focus on what we have and what we can control,” Quiambao said. INQ