By Adrian Stewart Co
TNT Tropang Giga head coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes was not surprised with the offensive emergence of Kib Montalbo in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
According to the veteran bench tactician, the Bacolod City-native Montalbo took his time to work on his offense in practices after being just a defensive guard in his rookie year.
“Kib has been putting in the work in practice,” Reyes said. “And the work that he’s putting in in practice, extra shots, spending time in the weights room, extra conditioning, I think it’s showing on the basketball court.”
The former De La Salle University Green Archers guard started to gain his confidence when he scored 13 points in Tropang Giga’s 83-67 loss to San Miguel Beermen two weeks ago.
Montalbo, a former standout of St. John’s Institute in Bacolod City, went on to put up double-figures in scoring, including a career-high 22 points in TNT’s win over NorthPort Batang Pier last week.
“Kib’s a dog,” said TNT rookie Mikey Williams. “He’s giving us that little energy spark that we need day in and day out, picking up 94 feet and picking on, most of the time, the best challenges that we have.
“He’s holding his own, he’s doing really well, and I applaud him. He’s gonna continue to get better,” he added on Montalbo, who averaged 13.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals in the last four games.
Reyes further said that the 6-foot Montalbo is now a huge part of the Tropang Giga rotation as they focus on strengthening their defense, which the team lacked in their runner-up finish last year.
“If you’ll notice, with a lot of our pick-ups, we put a premium on defense,” Reyes said. “You know, the guys that we picked up in the offseason they’re really defenders because that’s what we feel that we lack in this team.”
The Tropang Giga has a twice-to-beat advantage for being the top-seed after the eliminations when they face defending champions and no.8 ranked Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings tonight./ASC, WDJ