Kevin Quiambao has been the star of UAAP Season 86, but he is chasing something much bigger than himself this season.
The De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers have been on an impressive win streak. As of writing, they have won seven straight games in the UAAP men’s basketball tournament, and with just one left in the elimination rounds, they have already secured their spot in the Final Four. The man at the center of it all? Kevin Quiambao.
Quiambao, the former Rookie of the Year, has been the talk of the Green Archers’ rise back to the top of the UAAP pecking order. Thanks to his high statistical points, he closed out the first round of Season 86’s eliminations as the frontrunner for MVP. In Round 2, he doubled down on his efforts — against the NU Bulldogs, Quiambao recorded the first UAAP men’s basketball triple-double in five years; and with another against the UE Red Warriors, he became the first player in the UAAP Final Four era to record multiple triple-doubles in a single season.
In basketball, they say that numbers don’t tell the whole story. This case easily rings true for Quiambao. As impressive as his stats are, there is more than what meets the eye — so what exactly makes the MVP frontrunner so good, anyway?
Quiambao the playmaker
When DLSU faced NU in Round 2 of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament, Quiambao recorded 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists — a first triple-double stat line since CJ Cansino’s rookie year in 2018. Against UE, his numbers were even more impressive: 17 points, 19 rebounds, and 12 assists.
These numbers are rare in the UAAP. Where scores usually end up in the 60s to 80s range, and sometimes 90s on good days, to record triple-doubles with as many points, rebounds, and assists as Kevin Quiambao just goes to show how he has his fingerprints all over the game. And if you watch DLSU in action, you know that when Quiambao is on the court, he is actively involved in nearly every positive outcome for the Archers.
One of the biggest reasons for this is his passing. In the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, he already showed what he could do with the ball in hand, with his impressive bounce passes, drop passes, and cross-court kick-outs — he can do it all. And, his skills have been shining even more brightly in the UAAP this season.
Case-in-point: his 14 assists in DLSU’s comeback victory over NU in Round 2 was a product of his excellent foresight on every play and his efficient passing. When Quiambao is on the ball, his teammates can freely position themselves around the court and find opportunities to score, and conversely, the Green Archers can trust Quiambao to read the floor quickly and effectively distribute the ball — which usually leads to more points on the board for DLSU.
Humility, hard work, hunger
Quiambao’s teammates and coaches have nothing but good things to say about him, and their words speak to his character as a player.
Following Kevin Quiambao’s second triple-double of the season, DLSU Head Coach Topex Robinson shared that one of the MVP frontrunner’s best qualities is his hard work. “Sometimes, we really have to force him not to practice…We really have to guard him during practice time because next thing you know, he’s on the bike doing his runs. Next thing you know, he’s gonna do his mobility,” Robinson explained.
“He ups the level of the team because when your leader doesn’t rest, his teammates will follow. That’s the energy he brings to us.”
Indeed, this is something that not only his teammates can attest to, but also his schoolmates. Speaking to fellow DLSU students, several have noted sightings of Quiambao in the school’s gym facilities throughout the season, often working out alone and putting in extra hours outside of training.
This shows his refusal to settle. He is constantly working on becoming the best version of himself on the court, and this also becomes increasingly evident in his own words after being praised for his exceptional performances.
After his second triple-double this season, he shared, “Sobrang thankful and blessed na nakakuha ako ng personal achievement, pero lagi ko ngang sinasabi na yung goal namin is to win the championship and to compete at the highest level.”
With this, it is clear that although he is definitely the star of the Green Archers show right now, as well as the star of the UAAP as the frontrunner in the MVP race, he is still after something much bigger than himself: to bring the trophy back to De La Salle University.
Images from UAAP Media.