MANILA, Philippines — Kevin Quiambao said he was overwhelmed when he was serenaded with MVP chants late in La Salle’s victory over University of the Philippines on Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
But the MVP frontrunner didn’t let the cheers distract him and kept his focus on helping La Salle notch its fourth straight win at the expense of the top-seeded Fighting Maroons, 88-79, in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.
“Sobrang nakaka-overwhelm pero yung nga malayo pa itong season. Focus lang kami kung ano ang nasa harap namin,” said Quiambao, who finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds, three steals, and two assists. “Ginagawa ko lang ang trabaho ko and doble effort lang. Good thing naman na yung resulta gumaganda.”
Quiambao scored 11 of La Salle’s last 14 points to avoid a late-game collapse and tally their fourth straight win for a 7-3 record in third place.
But despite taking over down the stretch, Quiambao gave much credit to his teammates and coach Topex Robinson.
“For me, sinunod ko lang ang sytem ni coach. Sa takeover, di ako naniniwala sa ganyan. Talagang dinoble ko lang ang effort ko. Good thing naman ang sitwasyon umaayon sa akin and laging nasa isip ko na hinding-hindi na ako pwedeng matalo this game dahil every game matters na this second round,” he said. “So sobrang thankful ako na nakuha ang panalo and sumu-shoot mga tira ko. Credit dito kay Jonnel (Policarpio), kaming dalawa ang nag-run.”
Quiambao, last season’s Rookie of the Year, is on track to be the first local UAAP MVP since Kiefer Ravena’s back-to-back run in 2014 and 2015.
He believes that he played more aggressively in the past games which led to a string of stellar performances.
“Nung first round, nung first three games, more on nagse-settle ako on jumpers. Every game lagi akong sinasabihan ni coach Topex na kailangan kong maging aggressive,” said Quiambao.
“Every game, every practice kailangang maging competitive. Isipin ko muna ang mga teammates ko so good thing naman na nagbubunga lahat and nagre-respond mga teammates ko. Credit sa kanila dahil di ko naman magagawa to nang di dahil sa kanila.”
But Quiambao is more interested in leading La Salle to a championship than the MVP plum as La Salle goes for a fifth consecutive win on Wednesday Adamson at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Nung first round talagang kumompete sila against sa amin. This past few weeks maganda ang nilalaro nila. Tulad ng sinasabi ni coach, excited. Excited ako na makalaban sila sa Wednesday,” he said. “Di naman yan about sa kanila, about sa amin kung paano kami maglalaro, paano yung mindset naming coming into the game on Wednesday. Next two days sobrang crucial sa amin dahil galing kami sa panalo so mataas ang morale namin.“