MANILA, Philippines – DLSU Green Archers team captain Kib Montalbo and DLSU Lady Spikers star Desiree Cheng share many similar traits playing for high-profile collegiate teams in the UAAP. The duo also shares a bond, one that started when they were just classmates and has evolved into a relationship that has elevated both in their respective fields.
“It really helps a lot, especially during this season we had a lot of losses – 6 losses – lots of ups and downs, lots of frustrations. Siya nag pu-push sa akin. Like, ‘Kaya mo ‘yan.’ Lahat ng motivation, lahat ng talks to me pag down ako. She understands me. She understands my time. She’s always there for me,” Montalbo said about his relationship with Cheng, who’s expected to play her fifth and final season with the Lady Spikers in the upcoming UAAP volleyball tournament.
(She was the one who pushed me, saying, “you can do it.” She motivates me, she talks to me when I’m down.)
Revealing more details about his relationship with Cheng, Montalbo said that the two became close after sitting next to each other during their KASPIL class nearly 6 years ago. At De La Salle University, that’s the first history-related course students are required to take.
“Time happened. I talked to her. Swerte naman, binigyan niya ako ng chance. (Fortunately, she gave me a chance.) I owe that to her,” the beaming Green Archers captain said in a sit-down interview.
Montalbo, who played out his final season with La Salle in 2018, said it was also coincidental how the two had similar injuries.
“Sabay kami nagka [torn] ACL. Nagka ACL ako noong May, then June ata siya na ACL. Gaya-gaya siya eh,” he laughed.
(We had ACL injuries at the same time. I got my ACL injury in May, then she got hers in June. She copied me.)
“Our injuries are usually alike. She had a thumb injury last year, I had a thumb injury now during the season.”
The two-time UAAP champion also said that the two had their first date at RAP, a popular steakhouse in Taft Avenue that La Salle students frequent. Montalbo recalled that there were initial shy moments between the two, although the Lady Spiker star would always smile.
Montalbo and Cheng then became best friends before becoming a couple. That happened in part thanks to a quote by Aldin Ayo, Montalbo’s former coach at La Salle, that stuck with the Bacolod native.
“This is from coach Aldin’s quote… ‘Di mo mapapalitan yung effort. You can only counter effort with effort also,’” he said.
Montalbo exemplified that way of thinking when he officially asked Cheng to become his girlfriend, which to him is one of the most unforgettable moments between the two in their story.
“I woke up in the morning, I got the flowers, went there at Resorts World, placed it there, I went back, got ready, then nagkita kami doon (we met there), ate dinner, and I asked her,” he said.
“Eventually, she said yes.”
After having Cheng provide moral support for him during the Green Archers’ recent campaign, it’s now Kib’s turn to provide Des with support in her final season with the Lady Spikers as they aim for a four-peat.
“It’s my turn in their upcoming UAAP. Palitan lang naman kami eh (We just take turns). If it’s my season, she supports me. If it’s her season, I support her on and off the court,” he said.
Montalbo’s Archers fell short of a Final Four appearance in his final season, but he expects Cheng’s last year with DLSU to turn out differently.
“I believe,” he answered when asked if he thinks La Salle will win a fourth straight title. “Tiwala. Kahit kami hindi nag Final Four, pero lots of people believe [in them]. Malaking bagay ‘yan.”
(You just have to trust. We didn’t make it to the Final Four, but a lot of people believe in them. That’s a big thing.)
The UAAP women’s volleyball season will begin in February. – Rappler.com
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