De La Salle University had nothing much going on in its bumpy campaign until it pulled off two hard-earned wins to stay in contention for the Final Four of the Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball tournament.
With their backs against the wall, the Green Archers leaned on Gilas Pilipinas cager Kevin Quiambao who stepped up when it mattered the most as they held on for dear life with crucial back-to-back victories.
The Green Archers gained payback at their first-round tormentors — University of the Philippines and Adamson — with the versatile forward putting up solid numbers to stay alive with 5-6 that knotted them with the Falcons 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 wingman 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 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 skid and atone for its 86-84 loss in their first encounter.
His remarkable showing for the Archers earned him the Collegiate Press Corps UAAP Player of the Week presented by San Miguel Corporation and the Philippine Sports Commission for the period of 17 to 20 November.
“I only had two points in the first half which brought back the jitters in our first game,” Quiambao, who is fresh from the national team duty in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in the Middle East, said.
“I told myself that this should not happen again. I have to step up even in the third quarter.”
Quiambao edged out fellow Green Archer Austria, James Spencer of UP and John Lloyd Clemente of NU 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.
As morale-boosting as the string of triumphs was for the Archers, it’s not keen on lowering its guard anytime soon when it sets its sights on slipping past second-running NU and gritty University of the East this week to shore up its Final Four hopes.