Kib Montalbo: The Man of Steal continues his journey in the MPBL

Anton Roxas on Jun 27, 2019 07:48 AM
The Man of Steal continues his journey in the MPBL
“My mindset was: just be me.” - Kib Montalbo on his MPBL debut with the Makati Super Crunch.
With 3:43 remaining in the first quarter, the Rizal Golden Coolers held a 9-8 lead against the Makati Super Crunch at the Ynares Center in Antipolo. It was at that moment when Makati Head Coach Cholo Villanueva decided to unleash one of the team’s prized acquisitions: Kib Montalbo.
 
“Solid na point guard yan,” said Leo Isaac, who was providing commentary as the analyst on TV. 
 
A minute later, Montalbo grabbed a rebound and went coast-to-coast to score his first points as a player in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League. Right after that, he forced a defensive stop. Montalbo’s energy instantly changed the complexion of the game as Makati ended the period on a 12-5 run.
 
“Ibang klase ka, Kib!” shouted Isaac as Montalbo drained one of his two three-pointers in the second half. 
 
Makati cruised to a 73-51 win over Rizal. Montalbo’s stat line: 8 points, 4 assists and 4 steals in 17 minutes of action. Not bad for a 23-year old in his MPBL debut. 
 
“My mindset was: just be me,” said Montalbo. “I wasn’t thinking like, ‘Oh, this is the semi-pro leagues already.’ Because if you think about it, you’re gonna miss shots. Iisipin mo, ‘Oh, MPBL na pala ‘to.’ No. Just play your game. If you make mistakes, just let it be. Yun din and natutunan ko sa UAAP. We all make mistakes.”
 
From Swimmer to Baller
 
As a youngster in his hometown of Bacolod City, Montalbo was a competitive swimmer. But, his father, Roger, who named him Kirell Brandon after former NBA player and two-time All-Star Terrell Brandon, believed that his son was destined to play basketball. This proved to be true when one day, the younger Montalbo decided to skip a swimming competition just so he could watch his father play at a basketball game in Iloilo.  
 
“That’s when I realized that I was interested in basketball,” recalled Montalbo.
 
From there, Montalbo entered The BEST Center basketball camp sponsored by MILO to hone his skills. He also got to participate in the MILO regional tournaments as a representative of the Western Visayas selection and competed against the National Capital Region team who boasted of current UST point guard Renzo Subido and Andrei Caracut, who would later on become his teammate in La Salle. 
 
Bacolod's Best
 
Because of the exposure he was getting, Montalbo received his first recruitment offer in the 5th grade. Along with fellow Bacolod natives, JP Nieles, Kimlee Bayquin and Carlo Young, who would eventually play college ball in Mapúa, FEU and CSB respectively, Montalbo had an opportunity to further improve his talent a young age by moving to Manila and playing for Chang Kai Shek. 
 
However, Montalbo decided to stay put in the City of Smiles. A decision he credits to father and basketball coach, Dexter Dy. 
 
“Be a big fish in a small pond rather than a big fish in a bigger pond. That was their motto,” shared Montalbo. “Like, people won’t notice you if you’re in a bigger pond here in Manila. Even though big fish ako. But, if I’m in Bacolod and I’m the big fish, I’m the only one they see.”
 
The plan worked as Montalbo went on to become the best high school player in all of Bacolod, averaging 35 points per game while playing for St. John’s Institute. It didn’t take long before another school came knocking at his door. This time, it was none other than the DLSU Green Archers. Montalbo was finally ready to take that leap of faith.
 
Two UAAP Championships and being named team captain in his final year are just some of the most memorable accolades garnered by Montalbo as he continued his basketball journey in Taft Avenue. He is now looking to complete his studies by graduating with a degree in Business Management before taking the next step in his career and applying for the PBA draft later this year. 
 
In the meantime, Montalbo is relishing the opportunity to play in the MPBL. With Villanueva as his coach and other former La Salle players like Simon Atkins and Joshua Torralba on the roster, Montalbo can’t help but feel blessed with the current situation he’s in. 
 
“If feels like home. Culture wise, it’s there. La Salle will always be in my heart. Tatak Lasallano na tayo,” said Montalbo.
 
Other notable names on the roster are former PBA players Jong Baloria, Rudy Lingganay, Joseph Sedurifa, and Jeckster Apinan.
 
“We have a lot of ex-pros and I love being around them. If ever I get drafted, kahit bangko ako, I’ll be happy with it because I just want to learn from all of them. Bonus yun eh. Dagdag sa akin yun eh,” said Montalbo.
 
When asked if there was any particular player he wants to learn from specifically, Montalbo was quick to share his response. 
 
“Chris Ross. Defense. I want to play for San Miguel because he’s there.”
 
Speed has always been one of Montalbo’s advantages as a basketball player. His aggressive defense also earned him the nickname, “Man of Steal” in the UAAP. Montalbo continues to use these attributes to help his new ball club in the MPBL. But, with the PBA in his sights, he knows that he still has to keep working to improve his game. 
 
“I need to bulk up and gain strength in my body. Speed wise, alam ko na mabilis ako.”
 
On Friday, the Makati Super Crunch will be back in action in the 2019 MPBL Lakan Cup and will go up against Montalbo’s home team, the Bacolod Master’s who, ironically, are being led by another former Green Archer, Mac Tallo. Catch the live coverage of the game at 4:00 P.M. on S+A, iWant and sports.abs-cbn.com/livestream/mpbl

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