by Waylon Galvez
Eman Monfort of Barako Bull almost always draws curious looks from PBA fans.
At 5-foot-6, he appears to be out of his league. But Sunday night, the former Ateneo star showed where he belongs.
He scored 22 points, second to Barako import Mike Singletery’s 28 points, as the pint-sized point guard relived his glory days with the Blue Eagles where he starred in two of the team’s five straight championships.
His game was highlighted by 4-of-5 shooting from three-point territory that helped his team beat Meralco, 90-89.
He added seven boards in an all-around performance that earned him raves from Barako Bull consultant Rajko Toroman, the former Gilas Pilipinas coach whose eye for talent is considered impeccable.
After Monfort’s break out game, Toroman said the team has finally found the point guard it needed.
“He played amazing basketball and he showed that he’s a very respectable point guard in the PBA,” said Toroman. “We decided that he will be our first option. He’s our best point guard, no doubt.”
Toroman surely knows the kind of talent he has with Monfort.
After all, the Serbian developed one of the region’s top point guards in Mahdi Kamrany of Iran and honed the skills of Alaska’s JV Casio and San Mig Coffee’s Mark Barroca when they were still with the Smart Gilas Pilipinas.
In his first game in the season-ending conference, Monfort had nine points and eight assists in a 118-113 overtime loss to TNT, where he played 42 minutes – just a minute shorter than Singletary and TNT’s Tony Mitchell.
Picked 16th overall by Barako Bull in last year’s PBA Rookie Draft, Monfort said he feels fortunate to be given the opportunity by Toroman.
He was also fortunate that the team’s first option at point, Jonas Villanueva, was out for the rest of the conference following a right knee surgery.
“I just do the things that I need to do, to set the plays and play pesky on defense,” Monfort said, adding, “ these are the things that I really need to do.”
“ But I’m just fortunate that I was able to make my shots because my teammates gave me good looks to the basket.”
Monfort is the fourth smallest player to play in the PBA after 5-foot-5 Billy Abarrientos (uncle of former league MVP Johnny Abarrientos who played for U-Tex), 5-foot-5 and 5/8 Al Vergara, and 5-foot-5 and 3/4 Boyet Bautista.
Monfort said size does not matter in his case.
“I just face it every day as a challenge,” said Monfort, who missed the entire Philippine Cup with a broken right wrist and played just four games in the Commissioner’s Cup averaging 5.75 points and 1.75 rebounds.
“Kung papakinggan ko yung mga sinasabi na maliit ako, walang mangyayari. So I just try to use the advantage I have which is quickness, while working on my weaknesses by doubling my efforts, working hard in practice.’
“I always say that ‘God gave me this height, but he also gave me a