The DLSU Green Archers have built a rich winning tradition in the UAAP that has spanned decades and eras.
La Salle first entered the league in 1986 and after winning this year’s title over the UP Fighting Maroons, they extended their streak as the only school that has won a UAAP championship in each decade since the ‘80s.
With a heritage that is as deep as theirs, the bar to join the company of DLSU’s greats is inevitably much higher than it is for most, if not all, rival teams. The list of famed Green Archers is headlined by two centers, Jun Limpot (1989 and 1990) and Don Allado (1998 and 1999), who were both named the UAAP Most Valuable Player and won the championship in the same season not just once, but in back-to-back years.
Four-time UAAP champion (1998-2001) Ren-Ren Ritualo is on this list as well and many argue that he stands alone as the greatest to ever suit up for La Salle. As a matter of fact, he remains the sole DLSU player to earn the honor of having his jersey retired by DLSU since they moved to the UAAP.
The jerseys of Kurt Bachmann and Lim Eng Beng hang in the rafters too for their exploits with the Green Archers, though their time with the team came when La Salle was still in the NCAA.
Bachmann won the NCAA championship with what was still known as De La Salle College (DLSC) back in 1956 before suiting up for the Philippine National Team in the 1960 Rome Olympics. On the other hand, Lim took home two titles (1971 and 1974) for DLSC in addition to being named the NCAA Most Valuable Player in 1974.
More recently, Jeron Teng, Ben Mbala, JVee Casio, Mac Cardona, and Mike Cortez have also etched their names in the school’s lore in one way or another. Their combination of championships and individual achievements through the years has indeed immortalized them and they continue to loom over the team as an inspiration and benchmark, especially with their constant presence in the stands to this day.
Players of this caliber are few and far between. Those who can handle the expectations that come with suiting up for a prestigious program such as DLSU are even more rare.
Since the Green Archers last won the UAAP championship in 2016, many talented players have come and gone as they have faltered under the pressure that comes with playing for the Green Archers.
However, this year was finally different.
Kevin Quiambao, last season’s UAAP Rookie of the Year, came into this campaign trimmed down and had only one goal in mind: To bring back the championship to La Salle.
Over 18 games–14 in the eliminations, one in the Final Four, and three in the Finals–the 6’4 forward did everything he could to achieve this goal. He averaged 16.4 points, 2.2 three-pointers, 10.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.9 blocks and these lofty statistics earned him the UAAP Most Valuable Player award by a mile.
What made Quiambao’s MVP run even more impressive was that he snapped the six-year streak of Foreign Student Athletes (FSA) winning the league’s highest individual award which is no small feat. The FSAs who have played in the UAAP over the past decade have been much more skillful than their predecessors and this, coupled with their innate physical dominance, gives them a clear cut edge over local players.
This speaks to how special Quiambao was this year. Aside from his imposing averages, the two triple doubles that he tallied in the second round were the only ones recorded this season, the UAAP’s first since 2018, and the first for DLSU since the UAAP began keeping digital statistics in 2003.
Quiambao powered DLSU to second place in the elimination round with an 11-3 win-loss record which gave them a twice-to-beat advantage versus the NU Bulldogs in the semifinals. They then dispatched the Bulldogs in one game to book a highly-anticipated best-of-three showdown with the top-seeded Fighting Maroons.
After a 30-point blowout loss in the opening game, Quiambao led La Salle’s resurgence and towed them to the finish line with wins in Games 2 and 3. In the finale, he willed the Green Archers to victory with 24 points, four three-pointers, nine rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and only one turnover.
The 22-year-old forward shot only six-of-21 from the field, yet, along with graduating point guard Evan Nelle, was more than willing to serve as the team’s go-to guy down the stretch. This allowed DLSU to settle down late in the game and was what ultimately propelled them to victory over UP.
With a UAAP championship now under his belt, Quiambao is now a member of the exclusive club of Lasallian UAAP MVPs who went on to win the championship in the same season. Limpot, Allado, and Mbala (2016) are now joined by another name that is just as worthy: Quiambao.
If he does fulfill his early promise to return for next season, another year of production like this past one should only push him further up the ranks of not only the Green Archers’ legends, but that of the entire league. He actually has three more years of eligibility remaining, albeit staying in the UAAP beyond next year seems quite short-sighted. The wealth of international basketball opportunities now available to young Filipino standouts is too good to pass up on, though it must be emphasized that this decision is the athlete’s, and only the athlete’s, to make.
Regardless of what happens next for him, Quiambao has already captured the hearts of a rabid DLSU community that is notoriously critical, proud, and loyal all at the same time. This native of Muntinlupa City now lives forever in the annals of La Salle greats, whether or not he suits up for this team ever again, and the sky’s truly the limit–at least from a Filipino basketball perspective–for this man.
Many have faded into obscurity through the years and many more will be forgotten as time passes, but for the few like Quiambao who can call themselves Green Archer greats, their place in history will forever remain.