By Jun Ray Navarres
Kevin Quiambao and the De La Salle University completed their reverse sweep to reclaim the UAAP Season 86 Men’s Basketball crown after seven years, 73-69, Wednesday evening.
After a meltdown in the worst UAAP Finals in Game One, Quiambao and Mythical Five guard Evan Nelle kept DLSU together to outlast the Fighting Maroons in a final game showdown.
“Mindset lang na leave it all on the court dahil wala na ngang bukas. Game 3 na ito, win or go home na. Sobrang sarap sa pakiramdam na kahit maraming nagdoubt sa amin no’ng first round, ito na kami, CHAMPION!” said Quiambao.
But it wasn’t an easy one for the guys in green as UP was still ahead 67-63 with 6:05 left in the night.
Nelle however, sparked the fire for the Green Archers, nailing a three after a timeout and with only 4:46 remaining, Quiambao turned the tables toward the Green Archer’s favor with a floater and free throws, 70-67.
Gerry Abadiano tried to outrun DLSU, but KQ was quick to recover for the denial of the shot. The Green Archers capitalized on the turnover to burn the clock down to 19.2 ticks.
CJ Cansino gave the Fighting Maroons another chance to close in, but Harold Alarcon rushed things too much, forcing a three which resulted in a turnover that sent Quiambao to the line. The Muntinlupa-native split his charities, 71-67.
Francis Lopez was able to recycle an airballed three by Malick Diouf to cut the gap, 71-69. But Quiambao made sure to nail the coffin as he was sent to the line by Reyland Torres.
The 22-year-old Season 86 MVP finished his fairytale season with a 24-point, nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks game. He was also later crowned as the Finals MVP – the first to receive both honors since Arwind Santos in Season 68 for Far Eastern University.
Nelle added 12 buckets, six rebounds, seven dimes, and two steals while rookie Jonnel Policarpio and graduating Mark Nonoy contributed eight points apiece. Mike Phillips continued his strong rebounding game, tallying 16 rebounds in addition to five points and four assists.
On the other hand, Diouf capped his UAAP career with a double-double of 21 points and 14 boards. Lopez topped up 12 baskets while Alarcon contributed 10.
With the 10th title, Green Archers rookie head coach Topex Robinson joins Franz Pumaren, Juno Sauler, and Aldin Ayo as the few chosen who won the coveted championship in this first year of coaching for the Taft-based university.
“I’m so grateful and honored to be a part of this amazing group of guys. Also, we have to credit the coaches who came before me and built this team. They’ve done a tremendous job and I’m just so grateful for these guys that were with me throughout the season. Can’t thank enough also the coaches,” said Robinson.
Graduating as champions were Joaqui Manuel, Francis Escandor, and Ben Phillips while Cansino played for the last time wearing the Maroons jersey.
Featured photo courtesy of UAAP
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