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Cardona pep talk fires up Quiambao

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Mac Cardona KEVIN Quiambao draws inspiration from former La Salle star Mac Cardona in powering the Green Archers to Season 86 UAAP men’s basketball tournament title.

Following the worst beatdown of his collegiate career, Kevin Quiambao found solace talking to another De La Salle University star decades his senior.

The long talk with former King Archer Mac Cardona was all Quiambao needed to reignite his burning desire to lead the men in green back to glory and prove why he was named Season 86 Most Valuable Player in the first place.

Two matches later following La Salle’s forgettable Game 1 loss to University of the Philippines, the Green Archers brought the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball title to Taft Avenue with Quiambao at the helm.

“After Game 1, I had a very long chat with Kuya Mac Cardona,” Quiambao said after La Salle’s 73-69 championship-clinching Game 3 win last Wednesday at the jampacked Smart Araneta Coliseum.

It was that lengthy heart-to-heart talk, according to Quiambao, that inspired him to get back on his feet and rally his team to UAAP basketball history witnessed by a record crowd of 25,192.

“Knowing all the ups and downs he went through in his career, I’m truly happy and grateful that I received encouraging words from him so thank you Kuya Mac, I love you,” he said.

Cardona, who helped La Salle complete a four-peat in 2001 where he was also named Rookie of the Year, was among the many Green Archers greats in the venue that cheered and celebrated the school’s first championship in seven years and 10th overall.

La Salle, who got in the finals after six years, got demolished in the series opener, 97-67, with Quiambao bleeding to get his 11 points. The Green Archers equalized in a lopsided Game 2, 82-60, but Quiambao got limited to just nine points.

But the Season 85 top rookie saved his best game in the best-of-three series for last.

Quiambao fired 24 points, including the Green Archers’ last seven points of the season, in the decisive 10-2 closing run to erase a four-point deficit.

The 6-foot-6 forward, who sealed the deal with two free throws in the last 2.1 seconds, also pulled down nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

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