By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After days of searching for Ange Kouame’s replacement in the frontcourt roster of the Strong Group hoops club, head coach Charles Tiu and the rest of the staff already found another gem heading into the 32nd Dubai International Basketball tournament.
Tiu and team owner Jacob Lao announced that Kevin Quiambao of the De La Salle University (DLSU) Green Archers is ready to replace Koaume who is still ill after contracting dengue fever.
Strong Group initially had Justin Brownlee and Andray Blatche as their primary options but both naturalized players already had prior commitments with their mother clubs.
Brownlee, the newest naturalized athlete set to play for the Philippines in the FIBA World Cup, is still committed to the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel while Blatche already confirmed his participation with an overseas club.
“We decided to ask Kevin Quiambao, and thankfully DLSU allowed him to join. It will be a great experience for him,” said Tiu.
The reigning UAAP Rookie of the Year is no stranger to international basketball after cracking the lineup of the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team during its last FIBA qualification.
Quiambao impressed head coach Chot Reyes and the rest of his teammates while being identified as one of the most-high IQ players on the roster of the national team.
“We need to find a way to rush and get his visa because we are playing already on Friday. Don’t know how he will pick things up, but hopefully he will, cause he’s a high IQ player anyways,” Tiu added.
Quiambao will be joining coach Tiu’s big men rotation of Justine Baltazar, Renaldo Balkman, and Will Gozum.
Other collegiate stars who were included in the lineup are BJ Andrade, Jerom Lastimosa, JD Cagulangan, Francis Lopez, and Miguel Oczon.