UAAP: La Salle greats heap praise at ‘one of a kind’ Kevin Quiambao
MANILA, Philippines — Former La Salle players and coach Aldin Ayo are nothing short of impressed with the play of Green Archers star Kevin Quiambao, who is on his way to becoming the first local MVP in the UAAP since 2015.
Renren Ritualo, a key member of La Salle’s “four-peat” team from 1998 to 2001, believes Quiambao’s two triple-doubles in the season — the most by a player in the Final Four era — already separates him from the rest of the league.
“How could I describe him? It’s my first time to see a player tallying a triple-double in the UAAP. Even in the PBA, it’s really hard to do that feat, especially in the collegiate and amateur. It’s only 40 minutes and he made it look so easy, his triple-doubles, did it twice. It’s really impressive,” said Ritualo during the ring ceremony of the ‘four-peat’ and 2016 teams on Monday.
Ayo, the former La Salle coach who brought the team to back-to-back Finals appearances in 2016 and 2017, said the sophomore forward and last season’s Rookie of the Year is “on another level.”
“I’ve seen him play when he was in high school and even the early part of his collegiate career but this season, he definitely stepped up. He’s in his best shape in terms of the physical aspect. He’s a one-of-a-kind player. He is very versatile. He can score, he can pass, do it all. But his maturity and will to win will be tested in the Finals,” said the Season 79 champion coach in Filipino.
Mayor Francis Zamora, a member of the 1998-1999 La Salle team, believes that Quiambao will be the Green Archers’ edge against the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in the UAAP Season 86 Finals starting on Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
“For me, Kevin is really good. He can play all positions, he can dribble, he can rebound, he can give assists, he can score, he can shoot the three, basically he can do everything. For me, he gives La Salle a huge chance to win [it all],” Zamora said in Filipino.
“Of course, it’s a team effort but you can see how much he has improved from last season. He has improved a lot and you can see his leadership inside the court. We’re hoping that he wins the MVP but more than the MVP, we’re hoping that he along with everyone else can lead the team to winning the championship this year.”
Jeron Teng, the Season 79 Finals MVP, hopes Quiambao together with his teammates would bring back the crown to Taft after a seven-year drought.
“He’s the MVP for a reason and I’m expecting him and all the other vets to lead our team to win another championship,” Teng said.
Quiambao is also set to become the first MVP out of La Salle since Ben Mbala’s back-to-back run in 2016 and 2017.