Presumptive MVP Kevin Quiambao was put in shackles as University of the Philippines completely dominated De La Salle University in Game One of the best-of-three Finals of the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The 6-foot-8 triple-double threat was held to just 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field, six rebounds, and three assists. Moreover, he was a minus-22 in his 31 minutes and 44 seconds on the floor.
Making life harder for Quiambao was his good friend and former teammate at National University Nazareth School, Reyland Torres.
Fighting Maroons head coach Goldwin Monteverde sent on Torres – known more for “intangibles” – as the primary defender to the Season 85 Rookie of the Year. And he delivered.
“Syempre si Coach Gold may game plan eh. Nung nilagay niya ako doon, grabe yung tiwala niya sa akin para i-stop si Kevin,” said Torres, a 6-foot-1 forward after their 97-67 crushing of the Green Archers.
“Si Kevin, hindi madali bantayan yun, MVP siya ng liga na ito. Alam ko yung kakayahan ni Kevin, pero alam ko rin yung kakayahan ko kung paano siya depensahan.”
The moment Monteverde told Torres that he would guard Quiambao, he went the extra mile by doing the extra work in terms of film viewing.
Aside from film, though, familiarity helped as the two were high school teammates.
“Before this game, pinanood ko rin yung highlights ni Kevin eh, iniscout ko siya kung paano siya bantayan. As teammate niya dati way back nung high school, parang may script na rin ako kung paano siya bantayan, saan siya malakas, saan yung weaknesses niya so binalikan ko lang yun,” said the pride of Bago City, Negros Occidental, who transferred from NU to UP a year ago.
“Pero salute ako kay Kevin kasi grabe rin kahit ganon na kabantay grabe pa rin scoring talaga saka iba yung talino ni Kevin. Ibang player si Kevin. Papuntang Game Two, alam ko na si Kevin hindi papayag na ganon lang pinakita niya ngayon.”
Prior to the Finals, Quiambao was averaging 16.73 points, 10.67 rebounds, 5.67 assists, and 1.87 steals.
At around noon on the same day of Game One, the league announced the statistical points leaders after the elimination round. Quiambao stood way ahead of everybody and that created more motivation for Torres to do well.
“Syempre as motivation, gusto ko talaga siyang bantayan, kung ma-stop ko siya tapos MVP siya, iba rin yung balik sa akin non,” he shared.
“Nakakadagdag ng motivation sa akin kasi alam naman namin si Kevin big part ng team ng La Salle so pag na-stop siya sa amin, malaking tsansa na makuha namin ito.”
Game Two will be on Sunday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum. UP will shoot for its third title, while La Salle will seek to extend the series to a winner-take-all.