LA Salle had nothing much going on in its bumpy campaign prior to the 12-day Fiba break until it eked out two wins in a row to stay in UAAP Season 85 men’s basketball tournament Final Four contention.
With their backs against the wall, the Green Archers leaned on Gilas Pilipinas cager Kevin Quiambao as they held on for dear life with crucial back-to-back victories.
The Green Archers gained payback against first-round tormentors University of the Philippines and Adamson, with the versatile forward putting up solid numbers in their two escape acts to stay in the wild semis race at 5-6 – tied with Adamson for the No. 4 spot entering the homestretch.
Against defending champion UP on Sunday, Quiambao showed the way with a near double-double performance of 18 points and nine rebounds as the Green Archers pulled off a slim 82-80 win for a sweet revenge after a 72-69 loss in the first round.
The 6-foot-8 forward scored 13 of his points in the fourth quarter including the game-sealing free throws to cap off La Salle’s biggest win this season thus far at the expense of then red-hot and undisputed No. 1 UP.
Quiambao, 21, also finished with eight points on a decent 4-of-7 clip along with four rebounds and a block in La Salle’s pulsating 81-78 win over Adamson after CJ Austria’s buzzer-beating triple to snap a four-game losing streak and atone for its 86-84 loss in their first encounter.
“’Yung first half ko, two points lang. Kumbaga bumalik ‘yung memory na first game na broken jitters nga. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, hindi pwedeng mangyari ulit ‘yun. Nag-step up lang ako kahit lamang sila nung third quarter,” said Quimbao, fresh off national team duty in the fifth window of the 2023 Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers in the Middle East.
Quiambao was voted Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week presented by San Miguel Corporation and the Philippine Sports Commission for the period Nov. 17-20. He was picked oved fellow Green Archer Austria, UP’s James Spencer and National University’s John Lloyd Clemente for the weekly honor being deliberated upon by the print and online media covering the collegiate beat, with MNL Kingpin, Tinapayan Festival, and Jockey as minor sponsors.