UAAP: La Salle, UP brace for riveting, historic Finals series | Inquirer Sports

UAAP: La Salle, UP brace for riveting, historic Finals series

/ 01:45 PM November 27, 2023

Kevin Quiambao La Salle UAAP

La Salle’s Kevin Quiambao during second round game against UP in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball tournament.–MARLO CUETO/

MANILA, Philippines — The first-ever UAAP Finals series between La Salle and University of the Philippines features a couple of interesting storylines between former teammates and old rivals.

The Green Archers and Fighting Maroons dispute the Season 86 men’s basketball title — their first championship showdown since the former joined the league in 1986 — starting on Wednesday in Game 1 at Mall of Asia Arena.


Kevin Quiambao, La Salle’s MVP frontrunner, is facing his former high school coach Goldwin Monteverde and fellow Nazareth School of National University products Gerry Abadiano, Harold Alarcon, Terrence Fortea, Janjan Felicilda, and Reyland Torres in his first UAAP seniors Finals appearance.


The sophomore big man, who has been the key to the Green Archers’ recent success, is also battling reigning MVP Malick Diouf. But he insisted that it’s not about individual match-ups, it’s all about a total team effort.

“For me, it’s not me versus Diouf, it’s UP versus DLSU in the Finals,” said Quiambao in Filipino. “We will show a total team effort. We will focus on the present knowing that I am familiar with Coach Gold, who was my coach at NU.”

“I will give my best every day and I will prepare well for the Finals. We have to stay grounded,” he added.

Another interesting collision is between ex-University of Santo Tomas stars Mark Nonoy and CJ Cansino, who were part of the Growling Tigers’ last Finals appearance in 2019 when they got swept by the unbeaten Ateneo Blue Eagles.

CJ Cansino UP UAAP


What could have been a young talented roster led by Cansino and Nonoy were disrupted by the infamous Sorsogon bubble, which led to Cansino taking his act to UP, where he won his first championship in Season 84, and Nonoy joining La Salle.

After two consecutive heartbreaking seasons, Nonoy is finally returning to the Finals in his last playing year against his former teammate, hoping to give the fans a series to remember between the Green Archers and Fighting Maroons.


“Minsan naguusap rin kasi kami. Gusto lang namin bigyan ng magandang laban yung fans at gawin lang yung best namin. On the court siyempre kalaban yan, pero off the court, ganun pa rin yung friendship namin as former teammates,” said Nonoy, who erupted for 20 points in eliminating NU in the Final Four on Saturday.

“Para po sa school namin ‘to, gagawin po namin ang best namin, magpe-prepare po kami ng maayos papasok sa Finals,” he added.

Evan Nelle and JD Cagulangan, the court generals of both teams, renew their rivalry on the UAAP Finals stage.

When Cagulangan led La Salle Green Hills to an NCAA Season 93 high school in 2017, they overcame the top-seed San Beda, bannered by Nelle, in the Final Four.

Cagulangan also got the better of Nelle when UP eliminated La Salle in their do-or-die Season 84 Final Four game on their way to a historic championship clinched by the Fighting Maroon’s epic game-winning triple, which ended Ateneo’s dynasty.

Nelle may have lost his previous head-to-head against Cagulangan but he promised not to miss his final opportunity to win a UAAP championship, which will be ending La Salle’s seven-year championship drought.

“Him again? I’ve played against him since high school. Someone asked me a while ago who was I excited to play against in the Final Four? I said JD. I haven’t played against him this whole season, so it’s gonna be a tough matchup,” Nelle said. “When I play him, pautakan kami. He’s really good. He knows how to control the pace, how to control the game, I just got to match his effort or maybe even do more.”

Before La Salle’s nine-game winning streak, UP beat the former in the first round. The Fighting Maroons have more experience in the Finals as they appeared in four of the last five championship series.

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The finalists fight to draw the first blood on Wednesday and will try to claim Season 86 on Sunday in Game 2 at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

TAGS: CJ Cansino, Goldwin Monteverde, Kevin Quiambao, La Salle Green Archers, Mark Nonoy, UAAP Season 86, UP Fighting Maroons

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