Montalbo has 'mixed emotions' as he enters final UAAP season
MANILA, Philippines – When La Salle Green Archers team captain Kib Montalbo speaks, his teammates listen. And for good reason.
Montalbo, a star in high school in Bacolod, has been at La Salle since 2013. In UAAP Season 81, which commences in a few days, he'll enter his final season of playing eligibility, which will also mark the starting point of his final months with La Salle.
"It's kinda mixed emotions. I'm happy to be here in my last year then it's kinda sad for me, cause it's my last playing year at La Salle," he told Rappler.
"Syempre (of course) every year I want to play my heart out, I'm giving it my best, everything that I can for the school."
Montalbo won a UAAP title in his rookie season (2013) but played minimal minutes. After getting more action in his second year, his third season was delayed due to a torn ACL injury he suffered in the offseason.
The guy who's now known as "Man of Steal" returned a better player in 2016, helping the Green Archers win a title against Ateneo while establishing himself as a premier defender in the collegiate league.
But a year later, the Eagles exacted revenge against the Archers in Montalbo's first year as captain.
"We got beaten last year by heartbreak. Syempre (of course), we feel motivated to bounce back this season and we're approaching the games one game at a time," he said.
"Our goal is to win the championship pa rin kahit ano mangyari (no matter what happens)," he later added.
Montalbo admits that as the guiding voice of La Salle, there is expectations to deal with which can become challenging.
"Syempre (Of course) the pressure is always there. You may be the leader or not, the pressure will always be there," he said. "Maybe it's how I handle pressure. I just keep calm, doing my usual stuff, my routine, and just pray to God that he'll guide me on the way."
Another interesting fact about Montalbo's time at La Salle is that he's been under four coaches: Gee Abanilla, Juno Sauler, Aldin Ayo, and now, Louie Gonzales. He says all of them have similar traits, but when asked how his latest head coach differs from the rest, he had this to say:
"Coach Louie 'yung strength talaga (his strength) is the discipline he instills in us, not just on the court but also off the court," said Montalbo.
"We're one team, we're one family here."
Like his teammates, Montalbo has heard talks of La Salle possibly struggling this season due to the losses the team has suffered.
Aside from the departure of Ayo, La Salle also lost reigning MVP Ben Mbala and the Rivero brothers.
Some have gone to say that the Green Archers might miss the Final Four, but Montalbo doesn't buy into that.
"People are doubting us. Like okay, they doubt us. We'll give you the benefit of the doubt. We'll just go out there and prove them wrong." – Rappler.com