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MVP no problem with off-the-bench role

MANILA, Philippines — Kevin Quiambao proved that being “Most Valuable Player” is more than just starring in a starting role.

In a bold and telling decision by coach Topex Robinson with his support and blessing, Quiambao came off the bench in no less than an elimination match for La Salle in the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball finals.

It did not matter for Quiambao, fresh off his coronation as the first UAAP local MVP in seven years, as he spearheaded the Green Archers’ second unit in turning the tide on the University of the Philippines with a comprehensive 82-60 victory.

La Salle stared at an early 2-12 deficit first with Quiambao on the bench but his entry changed the flow of the game before the Green Archers sprinted away from UP in the race for a sweet revenge win.

UP took Game 1 with ease, 97-67, for the biggest win in the Final Four era as Quiambao bled from the field for only 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting.

This time, Quiambao had nine points, 13 rebounds and three blocks but his leadership from the bench served as the most glaring factor in providing boost and confidence to his teammates.

In turn, Francis Escandor (13), Joshua David (12) and CJ Austria (11) let it loose and rose to the occasion to punish the Maroons and force a winner-take-all Game 3 on Wednesday.

“Noong Game 1, pinipilit ko talaga yung sitwasyon. Kahit parang ayaw sakin nung sitwasyon, pilit talaga ng pilit. Kailangan ko mag-adjust and then ibaba yung ego ko para sa mga teammates ko,” said Quiambao.