Home » Headlines » Kib’s spunk keys La Salle’s fightback

Kib’s spunk keys La Salle’s fightback

By Jerome Lagunzad

Being down at the start of the UAAP basketball finals series is nothing new to La Salle skipper Kib Montalbo.

The 5-foot-9 guard, then as one of the touted rookies, did all what he could do in his own little way to help the Green Archers overhaul such deficit against University of Santo Tomas and defeat the Growling Tigers, 2-1, for the coveted crown in 2013.

Kib Montalbo  (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Kib Montalbo (MB photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

So it wasn’t a big surprise in Game 2 last Wednesday night when the proud Bacolod City player jolted his teammates back to their senses with his pesky defense that set the tone for La Salle’s fightback en route to a 92-83 win over Ateneo.

The graduating Montalbo collected a game-high-tying three steals, providing the defensive spunk late in the second canto where the Green Archers showed some signs of life before they rattled the fast-starting Blue Eagles no end in the decisive half to complete their rally from a 21-point deficit and keep their title repeat hopes alive.

“I looked at their faces and they were down. Not to brag about it, sabi ko sa kanila, I’ve been in this position before. What I wanted them to do was to believe and want it more,” said Montalbo, who also added nine points, five assists, two rebounds and a block in 31 minutes of tireless play off the bench.

“Hopefully pumasok ‘yun sa isip nila that’s why we got this win. I just told them to never give up. Whatever the circumstances na bibigay sa atin, down by 20, down by 30, just stick it out as a team.”

Montalbo displayed his tenacity in the closing seconds of the second canto when he refused to give an inch to Ateneo wingman Thirdy Ravena, who bumped him twice when he inbounded the leather.

“As a captain of this team it all starts with me. If I play tough, they’re gonna play tough,” he said. “There was no foul and I was just standing there. It’s just basketball and si Thirdy, we’re friends. But I think we needed that. We need to wake up. We’re down by 20. Inch by inch, possession by possession. We’re gonna get there.”

The 6-foot-2 Ravena, who had a game-high-tying 20 points but accounted for a game-worst seven errors, felt Montalbo and the Green Archers succeeded in getting into the Blue Eagles’ collective head.

“I feel like we weren’t tough enough to take that situation,” he said. “I guess it’s a real lesson for us that it’s not over ’til it’s over. We had a 20-point lead but we got complacent in the second half lalo na noong humabol sila.

“We didn’t take that situation well. They had a run and had a couple of nice plays that really motivated them to play harder especially on defense. We have to realize that when they make those runs, we have to play at the same level or even more.”

Aiming to close out his solid collegiate career with a bang, Montalbo said the Green Archers—as well as the Blue Eagles—should expect the same intensity from him in their winner-take-all match on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

“We worked for 10-11 months for this tapos tatapon lang namin? No way. We will fight ’til the end,” he said with conviction. “We should handle this victory very well. Hopefully we can ride the momentum going to Game 3.

“We’ll just prepare. We’re gonna give it all this Sunday. It’s the last game. For sure they’re gonna give it their all. It’s gonna be one hell of a match,” he concluded.

comments