For De La Salle University head coach Derrick Pumaren, having Kevin Quiambao on the roster for Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament could not have come at a better time.
With Season 84 Mythical Team member Justine Baltazar suiting up for the Hiroshima Dragonflies in the Japanese B. League, the veteran mentor said during the UAAP press conference yesterday that having another Gilas Pilipinas cager in Quiambao will be a big boost for the Green Archers.
The 21-year-old forward played for Gilas in the FIBA Asia Cup last July where he averaged 6.5 points and four rebounds.
For La Salle, the 6-foot-8 forward averaged 9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.8 assists in the 2022 FilOil EcoOil Preseason Cup.
In the Philippine Basketball Association D-League Aspirants’ Cup, Quiambao did better with 12.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals as La Salle toppled Marinerong Pilipino in a best-of-three championship series.
And for Pumaren, everything is going according to plan.
“I would say it was God’s plan. Kevin could have played but he had to wait two more years for him to graduate. I said God’s plan because we lost Justine but we could replace him with Kevin. He’ll bring us a different kind of talent to the table because he is more of a facilitator,” Pumaren said.
“I think he will be able to give us that experience from his time with Gilas. We can make full use of that and as I said, we can take advantage of Kevin’s position.”
Quiambao joins a La Salle squad that has Michael Phillips, Schonny Winston and Evan Nelle at the helm as the team aims for the title after a heartbreaking exit in the Final Four in Season 84 to eventual titleholder University of the Philippines.
Quiambao can’t wait to show what he’s made of.
“I’m excited and nervous at the same time since I’m a rookie. My expectation is that every game is a must-win. Every team is a team to beat. This year, I want to do my role and try to make sure we don’ end up the way it did last season,” Quiambao said.