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Quiambao aims to polish game


Kevin Quiambao’s decision to defer his plan of joining the professional ranks had nothing to do with money.

It was for his personal growth.

“It was not all about money. He wants to be more polished before turning pro,” De La Salle University team manager Agapito “Terry” Capistrano told a small group of sportswriters recently.

Quiambao asserted his dominance when he led the Green Archers to the University Athletic Association of the Philippines men’s basketball title last month.

He posted glowing averages of 16.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.0 steals highlighted by a pair of triple-double performances in the double-round eliminations to emerge as the first local player to win the Most Valuable Player award since Kiefer Ravena in 2015.

In the finals against University of the Philippines, his star power shone even brighter.

The sophomore sensation averaged 14.7 points and 9.3 rebounds with 2.7 assists and 1.7 blocks in the best-of-three title series to help the Green Archers clinch the title and lift the finals MVP trophy.

With that, it didn’t come as a surprise that some professional clubs in the Japan B. League were taking notice.

In fact, sources revealed that an offer was already on the table but the 22-year-old Quiambao decided to reject it following a lengthy talk with La Salle coach Topex Robinson and some personalities in the La Salle management team.

“Playing for La Salle has been one of the greatest blessings in my life,” the 6-foot-7 forward said in a statement on social media.

“After constantly consulting my family and friends, we’re excited to run it back and try to make it B2B.”

Due to the presence of bigger, stronger imports, Japan isn’t an ideal place for a Filipino big man like Quiambao to launch a professional career.

Former La Salle superstar Justin Baltazar struggled with the transition, prompting him to be released by the Hiroshima Dragonflies after playing only 13 minutes in eight matches while Carl Tamayo averages a quiet 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds in just 13.7 minutes of action for the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Prior to Tamayo, the Golden Kings had veteran Jay Washington, who averaged 2.2 points and 0.8 rebounds in just 5.8 minutes of action in six games before getting released.

Even 7-foot-3 Kai Sotto is also having a hard time after averaging 8.9 points and 6.1 rebounds in 19.1 minutes of action for the Hiroshima Dragonflies before moving to Yokohama B-Corsairs recently.

Sotto opened his Yokohama campaign with four points, four rebounds, and three blocks in less than 13 minutes of play.

“He realized that he needs more polishing before he can go to Japan or the PBA. A lot of (Filipino) players are in Japan and not everybody is successful. I would say only one or two were successful. In fact, some of them already came home,” Capistrano said.

“That’s why he really needs polishing. And there’s no better place for him to get polished than here in the UAAP. The daily grind here is way different than that in the pro ranks.”

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