NU bigs on facing Kai: ''Di pwedeng isiping mas magaling siya'

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 18, 2019 06:37 PM
NU bigs on Kai: 'Di pwedeng isiping mas magaling siya'
Carl Tamayo, Kevin Quiambo, and the rest of NU have had all the answers for Kai Sotto and Ateneo in the UAAP 81 Jrs.

Kai Sotto has found no match in the UAAP 81 Juniors Basketball Tournament.

That is, except each and every time he’s up against Nazareth School of National University and its endless supply of bigs to throw at him – from Carl Tamayo to Pao Javillonar, from Kevin Quiambao to Aaron Buensalida, and even from Reyland Torres to Dom Dayrit.

In their first meeting, Sotto had 23 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks, and two steals only to be outdone by Tamayo who had his own 13-marker, 10-board double-double all while keying the Bullpups’ win.

Come Round 2, Ateneo de Manila High School’s towering teen posted 24 points, 18 rebounds, five assists, and three blocks, but was again bested by Tamayo who only had seven markers to go along with nine boards, but dropped the dagger in the endgame

With that, NU completed an elimination round sweep of Sotto and company.

Afterward, though, the Season MVP did nothing but will his team into the Finals.

Only, waiting for them there were the very same Bullpups.

And in the opener of the three-game Finals series, the story was the same.

Sotto muscled his way to a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double and had twin tower Geo Chiu, standing at 6-foot-8, backing him up with 12 markers and 11 boards of his own.

Tamayo, also at 6-foot-8, and Quiambao, an agile 6-foot-7, went toe-to-toe with them, however, with the former finishing with a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double and the latter ending with 14 markers and 13 boards of his own.

In the end, it was the Tamayo-Quiambao connection which got the win at the expense of the Sorto-Chiu pairing.

And for those two, matching up with the Blue Eaglets’ talented tower is pretty simple – it’s all in the mind. “‘Di pwedeng isipin naming mas magaling siya sa amin. Ang pinaka-mindset talaga namin is ma-stop siya,” Tamayo said.

Quiambao can only agree, noting that NU’s game plan starts with them as Sotto is the end-all and be-all for Ateneo. As he put it, “Ako po, one at a time lang. Iniisip ko lang talagang i-stop si Kai kasi siya ang main scorer nila.”

With its bigs having that mindset, NU has time and again proven to be the biggest speed bump thus far in Sotto’s promising career.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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