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Wed 21 February 2024

Archers shoot down Maroons to win 10th UAAP title, 73-69

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In a close Game 3 on Wednesday, De La Salle University (DLSU) defeated first-time Finals opponents University of the Philippines (UP), 2-1 to end the series.

This is DLSU’s first men’s basketball championship in seven years, all the way back in Season 79 after defeating longtime rivals the Ateneo Blue Eagles in a clean sweep; 67-65, 79-72.

Kevin “KQ” Quiambao brought DLSU the gold with 24 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists. With his best performance in a Finals game, he took home Finals MVP honors to go along with his Season MVP trophy.

It was a back-and-forth affair in the early goings of the game until the second half, when KQ and his PG Evan Nelle dropped 15 and 9 points, respectively, after KQ scored only 9 points and 3 for Nelle in the first half.

By then it was too little too late for the Fighting Maroons in the last two minutes, resorting to fouls to send the Archers to the line, delaying the inevitable, only to let KQ go home with 8/10 free throws by the final whistle.

Not even a double-double from UP’s big man in the paint Malick Diouf could clench the Maroons’ fourth UAAP championship, scoring 21 points and 14 rebounds.

Rookie of the Year Francis Lopez also could not help UP’s cause even with 12 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals.

“We were really prepared. I think we were hungrier today, and it showed out naman,” said Quiambao.

Speaking about his performance in the fourth quarter wherein the Archers snatched the lead, KQ told that his mindset switched to “leave it out all on the floor.”

“Dahil nga wala nang bukas ‘to, Game 3 na ‘to. Win or go home na,” said Quiambao. “’Yung grind, mahirap. May mga pagkakamali. Ayun, nakita niyo naman, nag-turnover ako, and then binawi ko sa blocks. Trust lang ako kay Coach [Topex Robinson]. Trust ako sa teammates ko, lalo na sa dalawa ‘tong nandito [Evan Nelle and Mike Phillips].”

DLSU Head Coach Topex Robinson felt “honored” after winning his first championship for a collegiate team in the coaching position in his first year for the Green Archers, joining an elite club of first-time De La Salle champion coaches composed of Aldin Ayo, Franz Pumaren and Juno Sauler.

“I just don’t want to give up. When you doubt yourself and you don’t have the courage to move forward, you know that there’s somebody behind you,” said Robinson about coaching DLSU. “These guys were really giving me the courage to move on, even if I’m questioning myself.”

“That first game loss was really challenging for me. It kinda asked me if I’m really here, para ba talaga ako sa coaching?” Robinson said, alluding to his previous coaching stints with the San Sebastian Stags and Lyceum Pirates that yielded Finals appearances but did not go home with titles.

“But every time I see these guys, it gives me the courage to move forward because I draw my strength from them. Every time I see them, they challenge me. They check on me if I’m OK, and that’s really something that’s really priceless for me as a coach. Not just to be their coach, but to be their friend.”

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