When Kevin Quiambao first arrived at National University two years ago, he only knew a few people on the campus.
And one of the first Nationalians to approach him was Lady Bulldog Jack Animam, who was the reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player of that season and two years his senior.
Safe to say, the then 17-year-old Quiambao was starstruck.
“First meeting namin nung una kong pasok sa NU. Nag-eextra work ako nun tapos niyaya niya ko mag-one-on-one. Tapos lagi na niya ko niyaya na mag-training,” recalled Quiambao.
“Nagulat ako nun kasi hindi ko inaasahan ‘yun. Plano ko lang mag-extra work lang ako nun tapos may ka-training na ko,” he continued.
“Siya pa ‘yung lumapit nun, nagpapatulong sa post moves.”
Quiambao’s daily routine back then looked like this:
He would wake up at 4AM to do some extra work until 6:30. Then his classes would run from 7AM to 2PM. Thirty minutes after class, he would head to the gym for a one hour-and-30 minute workout. From 4PM to 7PM, coach Goldwin Monteverde’s team practice took place. Quiambao would then go into another two hours of extra work before heading back to the dorm to study at 10PM. Lights-off was at 12MN.
He would do this for two years straight.
Animam noticed this, as the Lady Bulldogs’ practice begins at 6AM. Before that, the 6-foot-4 Animam would challenge the 6-foot-8 Quiambao to one-on-one games on a daily basis.
“‘Yung play of style niya parang lalaki talaga eh. Kumbaga parang mama ‘yung galaw niya. Pero pinaka-natutunan ko sa kanya ‘yung footwork. Tapos tinuro niya sa akin lahat ng natutunan niya kay Coach Pat [Aquino], tapos ako, tinuturo ko rin ‘yung natutunan ko kay Coach Gold sa kanya,” shared Quiambao, who ended up as part of the UAAP Season 82 Mythical Team and the number three prospect in the 2020 Chooks-to-Go NBTC 24.
She took Quiambao under her wing, even treating him out for meriendas after those workouts.
Quiambao admitted that he learned a lot from Animam, saying that she is the same on the court as she is off of it.
“Natutunan ko kay Ate Jack ‘yung maging mabait ka sa lahat. Kumbaga approach mo lahat ng nakakasalamuha mo. Kahit anong gawin nila sa ‘yo, maging mabait ka lang.”
Animam is now set to leave the country in a few days, as she was tapped as a foreign student-athlete by Taiwan-based school Shih Hsin University.
And Quiambao fees immensely proud of his friend while she slowly achieving her dreams.
“Nakaka-inspire talaga kasi mag-represent ka lang ng bansa natin, nakaka-boost ng energy. Sobrang happy ako para sa kanya na natutupad niya pangarap niya kasi hindi lahat nabibigyan ng ganiyang opportunity,” said Quiambao, who was part of the Philippine Under-18 Boys’ National 3X3 Basketball Team back in 2018.