Kevin Quiambao impresses for Gilas with brilliant passing display
MANILA, Philippines — Kevin Quiambao was a brilliant passing big man for Gilas Pilipinas in their 42-point rout of India in the 2022 Fiba Asia Cup on Friday at Istora Senayan in Jakarta, Indonesia.
National team coach Chot Reyes and Thirdy Ravena lauded the 6-foot-8 rookie’s passing ability after dishing out nine of the team’s 23 assists in their rousing 101-59 victory to improve to 1-1 in Group D, assuring a ticket to the next round.
“It’s a luxury for us to have such a good passer for that position. It wasn’t anything consciously that we wanted him to do for this game, it’s just us allowing him to go and play to his strength,” said Reyes on Quiambao, who also scored six points, three rebounds, and a steal.
“It wasn’t meant only for this game but that’s really the strength of Kevin’s game and he showed it since the first time he joined this team.”
Ravena, who delivered 17 points on efficient 7-of-8 shooting to go with five rebounds, two steals, and an assist, said the 21-year-old’s playmaking skills make life easier for them.
“Definitely I love being with him in the court. It’s not every day that you come across such an intelligent and aggressive passer in Kevin,” he said. “Just being inside makes me focus more on getting to my spots because you know when the defense reacts to whatever offense does and he has the ball, he’ll most likely be able to spot that in an instant and just kick it and give you the assist.”
“Distributing the ball from a big man’s position is a little bit rare in our game nowadays. Just very fortunate to have him. I’m just proud of how he brought his strength when he was in high school to the international level. It will only get better from here,” he added.
Quiambao was called up for the first time for the third window of the Fiba World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers coming off two-year inactivity since he last played for Nazareth School in the UAAP Season 82, where he averaged 12.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks.
LONG TIME GILAS PROSPECT
But Reyes said they have been eyeing the upcoming La Salle rookie for a long time.
“I know he’s a surprise to a lot. But Kevin Quiambao has always been under the radar of the Gilas coaching staff,” the program director said. “ You have to remember that a lot of players from this team were identified as early as 2017 remember when we came out of the 23 for 23, Thirdy was there, Francis Lopez, Carl Tamayo. It was just the matter of activating and calling on the guys who were available from that original list we had.”
“We’ve always wanted to get a chance to test Kevin. There were other guys who weren’t available like (Justine) Baltazar. Fortunately, that gives an opportunity for Kevin,” Reyes added.
After averaging 6.5 assists in Quiambao’s first two games, Reyes said their last Group D game against New Zealand will be an acid test for them but he credited the rookie for his impressive development.
“He was to be able to pick his spots (in today’s game). There were times we felt in the last game that the openings weren’t there and he was still trying to make it and force those passes,” he said. “And for sure, New Zealand it’s going to be different. But we don’t want to take that away from him.”