Tim Cone talks Tamayo and Quiambao–the 'future' of Gilas

Tim Cone talks Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao–the ‘future’ of Gilas

/ 12:46 PM March 14, 2024

Carl Tamayo Kevin Quiambao Gilas Pilipinas

Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao, former teammates in high school, team up again this time for Gilas Pilipinas. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—In an alternate timeline, we could have gotten two more years of basketball warfare between Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao at the collegiate level.

Heck, in another life, we could have gotten a National University dynasty with both of them under the helm of famed mentor Goldwin Monteverde.

While Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone knew these to be true, the veteran tactician chose to look at what currently is.

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READ: Carl Tamayo ecstatic to team up with Kevin Quiambao at Gilas

“You just can’t deal with ‘what ifs. You have to deal with what is, not what if, because everything would have changed. Would Topex (Robinson) still be the coach if that rivalry had gone on? What would UP be like, would they get other players?” pondered Cone on Monday night during the Inquirer Sports Awards Night at Newport City.

“It’d be exciting, competitive and well, how many years did Carl have left in UP? Two? He would’ve run in with KQ a couple of times.”

All the what ifs

KEVIN QUIAMBAO carl tamayo UAAP

Former high school teammates and current Gilas standouts Kevin Quiambao goes up against Carl Tamayo in a UAAP game. -INQUIRER FILE

The last time we saw Quiambao in a La Salle uniform go up against Tamayo in a UP jersey was on November 20, 2022 in a match that put Filipino basketball fans in an absolute frenzy.

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In stunning fashion, the Green Archers dispatched the defending champions Fighting Maroons, 82-80, in front of a rowdy Mall of Asia Arena crowd.

Quiambao showed why he was deserving of the UAAP Season 85 Rookie of the Year award with 18 points, nine rebounds, a steal and a block to pace the Taft-based squad.

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And Tamayo, well, he showed why he was one of the cornerstones of UP’s championship run in Season 84 with 14 points and seven rebounds only to come up short.

La Salle would soon be eliminated from Final Four contention and UP would bow to Ateneo in three games at the tournament’s finalè.

Since then, though, fans waited for the future battles between Tamayo and Quiambao inside the hardwood. That, of course, didn’t become the case.

READ: Gilas won’t win all the time but team will make PH proud, says Tim Cone

Tamayo would pursue a contract with the Ryukyu Golden Kings in the Japanese B.League while Quiambao would dominate the collegiate hoops scene and win the Season 86 MVP plum almost unanimously.

But what if Tamayo had stayed and played two of his remaining years? Would Quiambao be the holder of Season 86’s best player hardware? Would La Salle be the champion in its best-of-three Finals series against UP?

According to Cone, there’s no way of knowing. After all, it’s a fantasy that’s “just tough to look back on.”

“It’s just tough to look back on it but they would have had some wars. We saw the wars in practice, they both are alpha dogs.”

But there’s a reason why the tie that binds both the promising young men spans even farther than the collegiate scene.

Going way back

Tim Cone talks to the Inquirer Sports staff during an awards dinner in his honor.

Gilas coach Tim Cone talks to the Inquirer Sports staff during an awards dinner in his honor. —MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Tamayo and Quiambao played under one banner before their wars in the men’s basketball tournaments and before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the young guns played for the Baby Bulldogs under now-UP mentor Monteverde and they shone bright like diamonds despite still being in the rough.

From 2018 to 2020, NUNS held down the fort and won back-to-back UAAP titles in the boys’ division with Tamayo and Quiambao leading the way.

So when it came recruitment time for Gilas Pilipinas’ four-year program, Cone made it a point to call up both the perennial high school stars.

When they saw each other in practice for the first time, they played like they hadn’t lost that fire they had a few years prior.

“That’s one of the reasons we brought them on. They know each other well, we know the chemistry between them, there’s a rivalry between them also with La Salle and UP. I think Carl was the big gun when KQ was entering college and now KQ is the big gun as Carl’s out of college.”

“[In the] first practice, they went at each other a bit and we were like, ‘whoa!’ They developed that chemistry over a period of time then after going at each other they were going with each other. They were looking, passing to each other.”

During their time in NUNS, Quiambao posted norms of 12.6 points and 10.4 rebounds while Quiambao logged 12.3 points, 9.8 boards and 1.3 blocks per game.

‘Representing the future’

Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Qualifiers

Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Qualifiers. –FIBA PHOTO

What was shaping up to be a dynasty in the men’s division turned out to be just another pipe dream as the pandemic changed the course of a smooth transition with Monteverde resigning as the Bulldogs’ head coach before even beginning the job.

Tamayo would land in Diliman, Quiambao would take his talents to Taft and the rest was history—bitter history, if you ask an NU basketball fan—but history, nonetheless.

Since then, the twin towers wouldn’t don the same jersey again—until February of 2024.

Instead of Green and Maroon, Quiambao and Tamayo donned Blue, Red and White to play under Cone.

Seeing the success both men is having with Gilas, the long-time Ginebra mentor chose to see things forward instead of dwelling over the lost Bulldogs’ dynasty or the array of Quiambao-Tamayo matchups at the collegiate level.

“They represent the future,” Cone said with a smile, seemingly painting the bright future of Philippine basketball in his head.

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“They’re just going to reach their primes. They won’t even be in their primes after four years. They’ll be barely reaching their body potentials at 25 or so. If we’re excited about them now, imagine what they’ll be like in four years.”

TAGS: Carl Tamayo, De La Salle Green Archers, Gilas Pilipinas, Kevin Quiambao, Tim Cone, UP Fighting Maroons

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