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Gratitude for Mac Cardona’s Mentorship: Kevin Quiambao Reflects on the Impact of his ‘Idol’

MANILA, Philippines —It didn’t bode well for La Salle’s title bid when Kevin Quiambao and the Green Archers absorbed a 30-point blowout from the University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 86 men’s basketball Finals.

But the Green Archers, determined to pounce on their best shot to end a seven-year title drought in years, simply refused to roll over and they pulled off a series comeback capped by a title-clinching 73-69 win on Wednesday.

Quiambao was front and center in La Salle’s championship victory and he credited the spring in his step to a call from former Green Archers’ star Mac Cardona after their 97-67 loss in the series opener at Mall of Asia Arena last week.

Captain Hook’s call was one of the many things Quiambao was grateful for in his stellar sophomore year.

“After Game 1, I spike with Kuya Mac Cardona. Knowing the ups and downs of his career, I was happy to get encouraging words from him. Thank you, kuya Mac! I love you!” said Quiambao in the postgame interview.

Although he didn’t share what the UAAP champion told him, the 6-foot-5 forward said that he’s long been a fan of Cardona’s game, especially his signature one-hand shot.

“For sure, [I idolize him] because when I was in high school my one-hand shot was inspired by Kuya Mac Cardona,” said Quiambao in Filipino. “I’m thankful that I received those encouraging words from him.”

Cardona, also a former UAAP Rookie of the Year like Quiambao, lit the fire under the Season 86 MVP, who led La Salle’s fight back in Game 2 where he delivered nine points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks to equalize the series against UP with an 82-60 blowout last Sunday.

Quiambao was also named Finals MVP after his title-clinching performance of 24 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks to bring back the crown to Taft.

Former PBA player Cardona, who received his 2001 championship ring before the Finals series, watched and cheered at the venues throughout the series.